Can you eat oysters during all 12 months of the year? Why not!
Myths and legends about when it is safe to eat seafood
When can you eat oysters?
Seafood and shellfish connoisseurs already know the answer to this question. Uninformed seafood lovers will not find this information superfluous: eating oysters on a regular basis 365 days of the year (or almost) is entirely possible!
The truth is, one does not need to eat molluscs only during the winter holidays or during certain months of the year.
Custom has it that one should not eat molluscs during months that do not have the letter “R.” This belief, however, was not based on scientific reasons even though one of its main objectives was to avoid over farming oysters during their reproductive period in order to maintain a healthy oyster population. While widely held this belief is certainly not rooted in French culture.
In reality, this idea is just an ancient custom that was started in the 18th century and which has absolutely no value as a rule of thumb.
Eating seafood platters: a standard dating back to the Old Regime
In 1759 the Royalty instated a decree stating that it was illegal to fish, transport and sell oysters and shellfish from April 1 to October 31.
This decision was made after several deadly cases of food poisoning occurred in the King’s court. It must be noted that during this time period there was a lack of proper communication routes, transportation was extremely slow and efficient means of refrigeration were yet to be invented… Therefore the legend forbidding the consumption of shellfish during the months “without the letter R” (May, June, July, August) dates back to this period in history.
Today, this idea about the most favorable period for eating oysters is often argued over and still associated with months that have the letter “R,” without “R” or ending in “ER”! One thing is true: oysters can be a part of any dish all year round thanks to modern cultivation methods used by oyster farms. The rest boils down to a simple question of personal taste.
It is useful to know that oysters are fatter and milkier between May and August, as it is their natural reproduction period. A seafood platter with oysters included in the spread can be on your menu 12 months out of the year. All you’ll need is a proper knife for opening them, preferably one signed with the Tarrerias-Bonjean logo!
TB oyster knife: the ideal tool for opening oysters
TB Groupe created knives and kitchen utensils that are specially designed for oysters and seafood, simplifying their preparation and their consumption.
It is important to have adequate equipment when opening oyster shells as it reduces the risk of hurting yourself. Many people have put this dish of choice on their black list because they are afraid of cutting themselves while opening them. This is a real shame, even though statistics show that this seed of fear has been sown for a reason: each year approximately 2,000 people in France alone have accidents that are connected to opening oysters!
A large portion of the population has deprived themselves of eating oysters just because they do no know how to open them properly. However this task is not very difficult to master! If you feel akin to those fearful of opening oysters we advise you to read our article on the Laguiole Evolution® oyster knife, which gives detailed instructions and tips that might help you.
Once you’ve got the method down pat all you need to do is equip yourself with efficient tools and kitchen accessories. Once again, we are here to save you! TB Groupe has created an oyster knife with a tempered stainless steel blade and ergonomic handle that gives you a sure and safe grip. This oyster knife is sure to become your ally when it comes to opening molluscs. This knife makes opening oysters super simple and greatly decreases your risk of getting hurt!
The very best ways to prepare and savor a seafood platter
Different shellfish for your seafood platter
We have established that eating oysters all year round is not a problem. However it is not recommended that you eat most shellfish from May to August. Most species of shellfish are not industrially farmed so we must respect the periods during the year which are set aside for them to reproduce and repopulate. Spider Crabs, Cuttlefish, Sea Snails, Clams, Scallops and Sea Urchins are all on this list.
During the months of the year that are not consecrated to the reproduction of these species there is nothing holding you back from enjoying a wonderful seafood platter! Many possibilities and various pleasures await you. For example, you can mix items from the following list of seafood:
- Saltwater Clam
- Flat Tellin
- Sea Snail
- King Scallop
- Sea Snail
- Marine Crab
- Velvet Crab
- Spiny Lobster
- Spider Crab
Please note that eating seafood platters requires special utensils such as sea snail forks and seafood tongs and skewers. Again, your best bet is to purchase the seafood set from the very elegant Laguiole Evolution collection or the 7-piece seafood gift set. These articles are examples of some of the successful cutlery articles created by TB Groupe.
The Sea Urchin has wind in its sails
The Sea Urchin’s (Paracentrotus lividus) primary natural habitat is along the Mediterranean seashore. It is prohibited to fish them during their non-reproductive period instead of their reproductive period.
Sea Urchins, or more precisely their gonads (the roe producing reproductive organ), are becoming an ever increasingly popular dish in France.
Another type of Sea Urchin called Sphaerechinus granularis, which is bigger and more rare than the Paracentrotus lividus, is also edible from June to September. It has a very salty, iodic taste. Their coloration varies from white to blue. They can be fished from November 1 to April 15 along the mainland of the Mediterranean and from December 1 to March 30 along the coast of Corsica.
Arranging a seafood platter with a Sea Urchin in the center is a fashion that is seducing more and more food enthusiasts.