How Much Do You Know About Oysters?
Oysters have the ability to scare off many people who haven’t tried oysters before. It’s a weird façade. If you want to learn some interesting facts about oysters, you may not have heard about before. To start this article, we need to go from the beginning.
They have been around for millions of years. Even fossil proof has gotten dated back to the dinosaur ages. It wasn’t until the stone age where they got first discovered as food to humans. The people of this age would often roast them on top of the fire.
Archaeologists have found that these people also used sharp stones or tools to pry open the shells. But most of the evidence of oysters collected had burn marks on the outside of the shells.
They were considered very luxurious to the Greeks and Romans. The Greeks believed they were delicacies and got often tied to the stories of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Aphrodite was said to have emerged from the sea on a giant oyster shell.
In this article, we will cover the ten things you probably didn’t know about. These include the crucial role the oyster has in the ecosystem, the changing of gender.
We will also discuss the different species, the health benefits of eating them, risky oysters, upcycling the old shells, the best season to eat them. The discovery of pearls, alcohol, pairing, and lastly, oysters and absinthe.
- An Important Role in the Ecosystem
- Changing Genders
- The Many Species of Oysters
- Health Benefits of Oysters
- Risky Oysters
- Upcycling Oyster Shells
- Best Season To Eat Oysters
- Not Every Oyster Can Produce Pearls
- Alcohol Andoyster Pairing
- Oysters and Absinthe
1. An Important Role in the Ecosystem
Although oysters seem to spend most of their days motionless, they play an immense role in the ecosystem. First off, they are a natural water filter. The oyster sucks in the water and separates organic particles and inorganic particles form one another. One can clean roughly 100 liters of water per day. Imagine a reef full of oysters and how much water could get cleaned within a day.
Secondly, they reduce coastal erosion. Coastal erosion gets caused by harsh waves and storms. Ultimately, which can increase flood risk and many more severe effects on the environment.
Many countries around the world, some time ago, used to have oyster and coral reefs to help reduce erosion and provide shelter for other sea life. Unfortunately, 85 percent of the globe’s oyster reefs have gotten destroyed by excessive fishing, pollution, and even diseases. This reduction of reefs is the reason why they hold a heavy price tag.
Over many years, the world has started creating new and improved oyster farms. South Australia is, once again, trying to protect their country coastlines. Many sources are saying that South Australia is currently rebuilding their oyster reefs. And they hope to bring back other fish species such as Snapper and King George Whiting.
2. Changing Genders
One fascinating thing that the oysters can do like many other fish and animal species, such as moray eels, clownfish, and even frogs. Is that they can change their sex to adapt to their environment. They contain both sperm and eggs in their reproductive organs. All oysters start their first years of being alive as males, and they will change their gender after their first year.
Most changes from male to female usually occur when the oyster is large. Whilst the males stay small. However, oysters don’t have the option of changing their gender once in their lifetime. They can change their gender throughout their lives.
When it comes to the oysters breeding season, they prefer the warmer weather to spawn. Spring gets referred to as the best time for reproducing. For the spawning process to begin, a single male needs to release his sperm into the water and fertilize the female eggs.
Did you know that if other males are surrounding this area, they will release their sperm too? This trend will ensure successful reproduction.
3. The Many Species of Oysters
There are roughly 200 varieties of oysters being grown throughout the world, 150 of which are harvested and sold in North America. But these varieties belong to the main five groups. These include:
- Pacific – The pacific oyster is native to the Pacific coast of Asian. It has a cupped, petal-like shape with deep ridges. Pacific oysters are among the very few that grow fast.
- Kumamoto – These are native to Kumamoto, Japan. Has as a similar shape to the Pacific oysters but grows very slowly.
- Atlantic – The Atlantic oysters are native to north and south America, located on the Eastern coasts.
- European Flat – European flat oysters originated in Brittany, France and has one of the boldest flavour you can find. Their shape is round, flat, and has a smooth outer shell.
- Olympia – The Olympia oysters are home to the Northern Pacific coasts of North America. You’ll find that they are smooth and have an iridescent colour to the outer layer of shell – white to green.
4. Health Benefits of Oysters
Are you trying to eat healthier? Or enjoy a better lifestyle? Not only delicious, but they are also super light for your diet and come with a lot of health benefits. Oysters come with many health-benefiting factors that you’ll be slurping down by the dozen.
Some of the many health benefits oysters include:
Most shellfish are a great type of protein and have even gotten assumed to be better than most meat out there today. This assumption has gotten told due to the oyster meat containing a lot of fat and shellfish and fish containing far less fat. Oysters carry roughly 7-9g of protein per 100g.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
We all know fish oil tablets work wonders for your health, but why not have a natural way to get omega-3 in our system? They have a high density of omega-3 fatty acids that promote healthy brain function and even mental and emotional health.
Vitamins and Minerals
Oysters get packed with many vitamins and minerals. These include zinc which helps the growth and development of the human body. It also helps build a better immune system and metabolism. Vitamin B12 helps the nerves and blood cells. Oysters have also gotten packed with iron, selenium, magnesium, potassium, and many more.
Due to oysters containing a high source of zinc, it gets said that after consumption, you will feel aroused.
If you are looking for a weight loss remedy, oysters may be of assistance. It has gotten mentioned by various sources that oysters can help promote and aid weight loss. Whilst also keeping you healthy and feeling full once eaten.
They are low in calories yet high in protein and packed full of nutrients which means they are perfect for weight loss. To succeed, a healthy dose of them, a general rule of six per person.
5. Risky Oysters
Have you ever had a sore stomach or ever feel quite woozy after eating some questionable-looking food? That is call food poisoning, and there is nothing you can do to avoid it. And unfortunately, oysters are one of those foods you need to look out for and get eaten with caution.
One of the best recommendations I can give to you is that you shouldn’t eat raw shellfish that has gotten sitting out for a while in a warm room or the sun. But even if you are cautious, you still may have the chance of getting sick.
But even if I’m cautious, I still may get sick? You may ask. Yes, this sickness is due to a bacteria that grows in estuaries and along the coast, called vibriosis. You’ll find that this typically affects oysters that are in the colder waters.
6. Upcycling Oyster Shells
If you have any shells leftover and don’t know what to do with them, how about using them in your garden? Funny enough, shells are loaded with calcium and can help your garden in many ways, such as improving your soil’s pH balance levels, gives plants the necessary nutrients and strength.
So next time, think about how lovely your garden will look when using the shells away and how great it would be to use them as a natural enhancer for your flowers.
7. Best Season To Eat Oysters
When it comes to eating there’s only one season that is typically favourable to the others. And this season is, winter. Winter is the preferred season to enjoy oysters because it helps the meat stay fresh longer and keeps the meat cool as if it were in a refrigerator.
Another reason why winter is the best season to enjoy is because summer oysters don’t have that much flavour. But you can always enjoy oysters in fall or spring.
Most farmers tend to avoid fishing for oysters in summer due to wanting to avoid any chance of bringing in bad oysters with vibriosis.
8. Not Every Oyster Can Produce Pearls
Have you ever thought, what if you were to open a shell you find and there is a pearl inside? The chances of this happening are close to none. Because, unfortunately, there are only certain types of oysters that can make a pearl.
The oysters to which are edible for human consumption. These oysters are from the Ostreidae family. Whilst the oysters that make pearls are from the Pteriidae family.
How do they produce pearls? When the oyster is sucking in the water, sometimes particles such as sand or debris can get lodged between the mantle and shell. And like with any irritation, it tries to protect it by using a natural protective coating of nacre. Over time, this coated particle turns into a beautiful pearl.
9. Alcohol Andoyster Pairing
When it came to pairing oysters with the best alcoholic beverage, the French had their wine. And the Irish had their beer, and Americans had decided to pair with spirits. The French recommend that pairing dry white wines like muscadet. The Irish prefer them with dry Irish stout or Quonnie Rock. The Americans like with some whisky, gin, or vodka.
And Don’t Forget the Champagne With Oysters
Ultra dry champagne styles without any added sugar or wine solution are often the best choice for consumers. The less sugar and wine, the better. A great alternative to super dry Champagne is a non-vintage wine that’s on the drier side but still has natural sugars and acids from grapes from the vineyard.
Worth to try: Drappier Brut Nature, Laurent Perrier Ultra Brut or Taittinger.
What will you sip while you slurp?
10. Oysters and Absinthe
What is absinthe? How does it get paired? Not many people know to understand what absinthe is because it doesn’t get enough recognition for its wonderous work throughout the years. Absinthe is an emerald green alcoholic spirit that has subtle notes of anise. And many other herbs and spices.
Absinthe typically gets paired with oysters in cooked recipes such as Rockefeller or even oyster and absinthe dome, but the possibilities are endless.
Check also the articles The Best Oyster Tasting in France and The times I didn’t dare to eat oysters.