Skip to main content

Oysters are an interesting part of the Mollusc tribe.  They are bivalves, meaning that they have two half shells, which are jointed together on one edge and can open and close as the animal desires, or more properly, is instinctively demanded to do.

Unlike their cousins, clams, oysters are from infancy pretty much fastened onto some sort of support, so they do not move.  Clams are sort of solitary, and like to dig into sandy beaches.  Another relative, the scallop, is so free to move that jet propulsion is the norm for them!

Let us examine some of the natural history of these interesting (and often delicious) animals.  We will point out that edible oysters are quite different from the pearl oysters.

Oysters are of worldwide distribution for the most part.  They are filter feeders, meaning that they continuously take in water (and algae and other food materials), filter out the nutrients (and in many cases reject things that are not nutrients), then return the filtered water to the sea.  This feeding habit has some drawbacks, especially to we humans eating them, because sometimes they filter pathogens and become contaminated.  However, they are important from an ecological standpoint because they filter out lots of sediment.

We shall confine our discussion to oysters native to and farmed in the United States except for a brief mention of pearl oysters.  In the US, three species are used:  the "Atlantic", also called the "bluepoint" or the Eastern one, Crassostrea virginica (formerly Ostria virginica) found on the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts (2 to 4 inches diameter), the Olympic oyster, Ostrea lurida of the northern Pacific coast (1 to 1.5 inches diameter), and the Japanese or Pacific oyster, Crassostrea gigas (formerly Ostrea gigas), around 6 inches diameter.  The first two are native species, and the last one is from Japan, farmed in the Pacific northwest region.

Oysters are interesting critters.  Like most bivalve molluscs, in the larval stage they have two adductor muscles (the muscles that keep the shell closed), but as adults only the posterior one remains.  That is why you see two in muscles, but only one in oysters.  Those muscles are strong!  If you have ever shucked raw oysters, you know how much effort is required to open them.  Some old studies show that it takes 17 days for the adductor muscle to fatigue and the shell to open with a 1 kg force on it, about 2.2 pounds!  It takes a little less than an hour with 10 kg, 22 pounds, so when you are shucking oysters you have to use a LOT of force.  When you shuck oysters, you really are tearing the muscle, and that requires betwixt 12 to 15 kg (26 to 33 pounds of force.

Most folks think that oysters go off very rapidly, but that is not the case, if they are kept alive.  Atlantic oysters have been known to stay alive, and hence good, for four MONTHS, out of water, at 34 degrees F.  However, the fresher the better as far as flavor goes.  The bottom line is that they are good if they are alive, but better fresh.  The way that they stay alive is interesting.

Since they have no active defensive mechanism, the way that they survive attack is to seal their two shell halves together.  They do such a good job of it that the seal is air and water tight.  Little energy is required to keep the shell closed if there is no force trying to open it, so they need no oxygen for a long time.  A big Atlantic oyster uses around 2 to 6 mL of oxygen per hour in warm water, but almost none at all just above freezing.  They stop syphoning at about 43 degrees F, but in the water may stay open at those temperatures.  You have to handle oysters gently to keep them good for very long, because bumping them around may cause them to open, even if quite cold.  Then the essential liquid (that contains oxygen) leaks out, and, having no way to replace the liquid, the oyster dies quickly.  So, keep them cold and do not handle them until you are ready to open and eat them, either raw or cooked.

Fresh, shucked oysters are good for only a very few days, and have to be kept extremely cold, just above freezing, of they will go off rapidly.  The problem with preshucked ones is that the entire container goes off at the same time, where with live ones in the shell, only the occasional one that opens is bad.  Oysters are still best near the seacoast, but with rapid transportation at low temperatures they are still good far inland, but rather expensive because of transportation costs.

In the United States, oysters are both wild caught and farmed.  Wild caught ones are harvested by dragging the bottom of the oyster bed with a rake, sometimes by hand if shallow, but more often dredged with stout steel teeth and then brought up to the ship.  Farmed ones may be harvested by dredging, but sometimes are also put in porous bags which hang above the seafloor.  Since they are filter feeders, their food comes to them, so they do not have to be attached to the bottom.  After a few years, when they are big enough to harvest, the bag is simply hoisted and the oysters removed.  This is more expensive, but losses from predators are less.  Starfish love oysters!  They open them by attaching their sucker like "feet" onto the shell and exerting a force until the adductor fatigues and the oyster opens.  Then the starfish pushes its stomach around the oyster, having them on the half shell!

Oysters are sexual perverts.  Well, not really, but their reproduction is sort of interesting.  For the first year or so they are males, spawning by releasing sperm into the water.  As they get larger, they cross the gender line and release eggs as females.  Talk about versatility!  This brings up an interesting aspect to oyster farming, using polyploid strains, artificially created, that can not reproduce.  They release sperm and eggs, but they are sterile and thus invasive growth can not occur where alien species are farmed.

There are lots of diseases in oysters, and they have to be controlled to keep the beds viable.  Unfortunately, it is hard to treat the oceans with antibiotics, so other control measures are used.  The oldest is to dig up infected beds and destroy the oysters, but prevention is better.  Modern methods that work well is to breed strains of oysters that are naturally resistant to whatever diseases are the most troublesome in a given area.

Pollution is another problem with oyster beds.  Before the environmental laws got teeth in the 1970s and later, pollution was a real problem here.  It still is a factor today, but not nearly as bad as it was before.  This is in the United States.  China, which produces around 80% of the world supply of oysters, is not nearly so careful.  Fortunately, most Chinese oysters eaten in the United States are cooked, which eliminates any danger from microbial contamination.  However, filter feeders also can concentrate dangerous chemical pollutants that are not eliminated by cooking.  Since oysters are not very high in fat, chlorinated organics like PCBs and TCDD are not highly retained, but that is small solace because of the extreme toxicity of these materials.  Water soluble pollutants are not highly concentrated because of the large amount of water passing through the animal, so the concentration of water soluble pollutants is not much higher in the oyster than in the seawater.

Raw oysters can carry bacteria that are dangerous to humans, particularly a couple of species of the Vibrio, only discovered in 1976.  This is a very serious infection, particularly in persons with less than perfect immune systems.  The very young, the very old, and people otherwise immunocomprimised should not eat raw oysters, in my opinion, but I love them!  Oysters also can concentrate toxins from algae, but his is not very common.  Oysters from US waters are generally safe unless the immune system is compromised for the most part.  The states that have oyster beds do a good job of monitoring the waters and the oysters.

The old saying that oysters are only safe to eat in months with the letter "r" in the name is just an old saying.  Wikipedia says that this saying comes from the fact that oysters spoil quickly in warm months, but that is nonsense.  If kept on ice, it does not matter what the temperature is.  The real reason is that in the warmer months the oysters are busy spawning, and their energy and body mass is dedicated to that.  Summer oysters tend to be more watery and less flavorful than ones harvested during colder months.

Speaking of flavor, why do oysters (and other molluscs) have that unique flavor?  The answer is glycogen, the so-called animal starch.  This is also the way that people store sugar reserves short of converting it to fat.  Glycogen has a slightly sweet flavor.  By the way, summer oysters have very little glycogen.  Oysters also use glutamic acid to balance their salt content.   Hmmm, glutamic acid and sodium ions, what does that produce?  MSG!  They also have unusually high concentrations of a couple of other amino acids that contribute to their flavor.  The saltier the water, the more flavor that oysters have.  Because of the huge inflow from the Mississippi River, the best oysters are caught at some distance from the mouth.  In New Orleans the best oysters are called salty oysters.

Of all the molluscs, oysters are by far the most delicate and most tender.  If cooked, they need to be cooked extremely carefully.  Lots of people do not like oysters because they have only had them overcooked.  Except for oyster stew, the less cooking the better.  I love fried oysters, but unless I cook them myself of go to a place that really knows what it is doing, they are tough, have a bad smell and flavor, and are essentially not fit to eat.  The secret of perfect fried oysters is very hot fat, a good breading, and cooking only long enough to brown the breading.  In addition, they should be cooked only a few at a time if the cook is going to eat any, because on standing they get overdone and then cold.  The breading actually insulates the delicate oyster from some of the heat from the oil, sparing the inside from overcooking.

By far my favorite way of eating oysters is freshly shucked, on the half shell.  Lemon wedges should be handy, and some New Orleans style hot sauce.  By the way, folks in New Orleans do not use much Tobasco, preferring the Crystal brand.  If you can find Crystal Extra Hot, you have it made!  Take the oyster, place it on a plain saltine cracker, and add some hot sauce and lemon juice.   MMMMMMMM!  I prefer mine so minimally processed, but you can actually mix the lemon juice and hot sauce, and soak the oysters in the mixture in it for some time, keeping it cold.

The acids in the sauce and juice acutally begin to coagulate proteins in the delicate oysters, "cooking" them without heat.  The delicate flavor is not damaged, but the texture gets increasingly firm as they soak in the mixture.  Studies done at LSU indicate that this treatment actually kills any pathogens in the oysters if they are left in the mixture long enough.  I just prefer mine extremely fresh.

Let's hear it for oysters, one of the world's greatest foods!

Pearl oysters are not really edible, belonging to a different genus, Pinctada, form true pearls.  Edible oysters sometimes form a concretion that is hard, but never of gem quality.  Perhaps next week we can talk about them more.

Well, you have done it again!  You have wasted many more einsteins of perfectly good photons reading this fishy piece.  And even though Liz Trotta tries not to act like the harpie that she actually is when she reads me say it, I always learn much more from writing this series than I could possibly hope to teach, so keep those comments, questions, corrections, and other feedback coming.  I shall remain here for comments as long as they are coming, and shall return tomorrow at around 9:00 PM Eastern for Review Time.

Warmest regards,

Doc

Featured at TheStarshollowgazette.com.  Crossposted at Docudharma.com and at Anetmedius.com

Originally posted to Translator on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 06:00 PM PST.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Ick. (4+ / 0-)

    More power to people who enjoy them though!

    I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

    by punditician on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 06:10:45 PM PST

  •  I dislike raw oysters. (3+ / 0-)

    Fried oysters though aren't bad.

  •  Best Consider the Oyster quote (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator, Situational Lefty

    I can find, at NPR.

    Rare as a pearl, online quotes from that book are.

  •  Another great diary. Mignonette (5+ / 0-)

    sauce is a great way to enjoy raw oysters.  I reduce a 4 to one mixture of white wine and sherry vinegar by half, cool and then add chopped shallots and white pepper.

    You can also enjoy raw oysters Japanese style with ponzu- half soy sauce and half lemon juice garnished with minced green onion and/or daikon.

    But the Crystal(or Frank's)/lemon on a saltine is classic gulf coast style!

    "Welcome to Costco, I love you" -- Greetings from "Idiocracy"

    by martinjedlicka on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 06:20:26 PM PST

  •  Nothing in my kitchen will satisfy me now. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator, 1864 House, Hedwig

    :(
    I was just going to get up and get a little something...

    Education is too big to fail. Truth is too big to fail. Justice is too big to fail. Peace is too big to fail.

    by Burned on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 06:28:24 PM PST

  •  One of the Joys of Puget Sound Living Was (5+ / 0-)

    same-day or next-day oysters, clams and mussels. I made it a weekend tradition to have 2-3 fresh oysters with my morning brunch.

    ghghghghghggh, raw oyyyyyyyysters!!

    BTW I also love the canned smoked oysters in the sardines/kippers/tuna aisle of the grocery.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 06:28:36 PM PST

  •  I love oysters! (11+ / 0-)

    I make a decent oyster po'boy here in the north country. Frying quickly and only a few at a time is the secret.

    For raw, I much prefer the taste of Pacific coast oysters to Atlantic. I avoid Gulf oysters after a bad experience many years ago. The Pacific oysters have a brinier taste - I alway say they taste like the ocean.

    My favorite oyster memory:  My oldest daughter was 3 years old and ordered a half dozen raw oysters in a restaurant. The waiter tried to talk me out of it but I assured him she would eat them. He said if she actually ate them, he'd pay for them. The entire wait staff gathered around as the oysters were placed in front of her. She expertly squirted some lemon on them and gobbled them down. True to his word, he not only paid for those, but asked if she wanted another plate and she said yes! She's 31 now and loves her raw oysters just as much as when she was 3.

    They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. - Andy Warhol

    by 1864 House on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 06:30:34 PM PST

  •  For true fresh ones, (5+ / 0-)

    I'll add a squirt of lemon. Well, actually, pretend to.

    For regular ones, sometimes a bit of chili/soy/lime. Or not.  

  •  Geoducks (4+ / 0-)

    or gooeyducks make me think of mutants.

    "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

    by Maggie Pax on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 06:45:36 PM PST

    •  YAAAAAY Gooey Ducks!!!! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jabney, Translator

      GOOEY-Duck hunting at an annual major low tide on sand flats off the south tip of Whidbey Is. Washington. Mountain in background is 80 miles away, mega volcano Mt. Rainier.

      Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

      Geoducks are the Paul Bunyons of shellfish. They're like 3 feet long mostly sticking out of their shells. Probably only takes 2 to equal a Sunday roasting chicken in meat content.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 07:27:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Please give more of a description. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gooserock, jabney

        Remember, I am not allowed to look up anything during Comment Time.

        Warmest regards,

        Doc

        •  Photo link (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jabney, Im with Rosey, Translator

          http://www.google.com/...

          I think Mike Rowe might've harvested some in a dirty jobs episode. ???

          We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

          by Gooserock on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 07:32:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks! (0+ / 0-)

            I'll look after Comment Time.

            Warmest regards,

            Doc

          •  Here's Some Text From the Link (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jabney, Translator

            The most impressive clam in the Pacific Northwest is the geoduck (Panopea abrupta). The world's largest burrowing clam, the geoduck reaches an average size of 1.9 pounds (including the shell) in subtidal waters of Puget Sound. Geoducks weighing over seven pounds have been dug and verified by WDFW biologists, and much larger specimens have been reported by harvesters. Geoducks grow rapidly, generally reaching 1.5 pounds in three to five years.

            Average of nearly 2 pounds, I was right, 2 of them or 3 at most equal a Sunday chicken.

            We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

            by Gooserock on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 07:33:59 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I like the quahog kind of (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              jabney

              clam very much.  How do they compare in taste and texture?

              Warmest regards,

              Doc

              •  Goeducks are for Chowder (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Translator

                Every July 4, some boaters stop and dig a 6 foot trench in front of our property to dig the goecucks.

                These clam necks are exceedingly long and therefore tend to elicit jokes or gross-out moments.

                I like the small clams that are in the gravelly shoreline.  Once I served them three ways: wine and garlic sauce, black bean sauce and tomato sauce. However, these days we leave all of the clams for the birds.  One crow yesterday kept dropping clams on the roof of the cabana, which is too soft to break the shell open.  Other birds drop them on the patio, and thus enjoy the meat.

                Yesterday, on the rock in front of our house, a pair of bald eagles sat together on a barnacle/mussel covered rock for 15 minutes.  It was the first time I had seen two together.

                •  If you could get pictures (0+ / 0-)

                  of things like the eagles, please post them next week here.

                  Warmest regards,

                  Doc

                  •  My only camera is on my iphone (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Translator

                    and they would look miniscule.  My husband saw an immature eagle (or a golden eagle, but that is much less likely) flying by also.

                    •  I am getting a bit depressed, (0+ / 0-)

                      not by your hand, but by mine.  I really miss Teena, and how we used to talk, and hold, and just love.

                      Warmest regards,

                      Doc

                      •  I am sorry (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Translator

                        I wish you always the best.  You do a great job here.  I didn't explain that we don't eat the clams for a couple of reasons.  There was an arsenic smelter across the sound, fairly closeby;  there can be algal blooms that produce neurotoxins at times;  the clams could legitimately be claimed by the Native Americans;  and they are the food source for the gulls, crows, ravens and eagles.

                        I will try to send you a photo of our view.  I have been told that water views increase happiness 2% (one of those probably false quasi-mathematical claims).  For me, way more than 2%.  But we don't actually live there full time, yet.

          •  After Mike Rowe (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jabney, Translator

            dug them up, a cute little woman sliced them ever so thin.  Put up with mike making some mess of the leftovers.  I think they sort of seem a little too big to be tender.

  •  I've had mussels.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator

    aplenty and clams out the wazoo but, honestly, the only oysters I've had have been deep fried.
    They were good but, I'm sad to say, I've never had a raw oyster.

    Ever.

    They call him Machete...

    by dclawyer06 on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 06:45:38 PM PST

  •  Never tried one actually (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator

    While my almost entirely vegetarian diet does include occasional locally caught fish, oysters are one seafood I've never eaten. But I always enjoy a Pique the Geek diary regardless of topic, so will relate what I know of them from my part of the world (New Zealand) to contribute a little back.

    There are two main types here: Pacific oysters are farmed in the warmer North Island, while Bluff oysters are the local superstar being a famous and much-celebrated delicacy. The small town of Bluff at the southern tip of NZ has an annual festival with thousands of visitors during their oyster season (which lasts around five months of the year) to enjoy them.

    I don't know what oysters cost in other parts of the world, but the Bluff ones here can fetch over 20 US dollars a dozen raw from a seafood shop and of course far more than that in a restaurant.

    You mentioned susceptibility to diseases, and that has been a problem here. There was a period of a few years in the 1990s with no Bluff oyster season at all, but it soon recovered to healthy levels. The farmed Pacific oyster industry has had very recent devastation from herpes in the past few months, with millions of export dollars lost.

    •  Oysters are not quite that expensive (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      retrograde, jabney

      in the US, and along the producing regions are pretty reasonable when season is going.  When I lived in New Orleans two decades ago, you could get a dozen at the oyster bar, shucked, for three dollars.

      Try them some time.  I have heard good things about the Bluff kind, but they are not much available here.  The Pacific ones are farmed, as I said, in our Pacific Northwest.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

  •  Made me hungry! (5+ / 0-)

    Just had some NW Oysters last week. Delish.

    And, I eat them with cocktail sauce and raw. Never like cooked oysters. Still, some places with have some wacky dip. And they need to stop that. :) Touch of hot sauce in the cocktail sauce is fine....

    Now, what was the name of the person who first opened one and tried it as a food???

    Bueller? Bueller?

    Ok, trick question...that guy ate anything...

    Garrhgsfsafasd! or...where the heck is Lieber?

    by Hedwig on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 06:49:08 PM PST

    •  I forget who he was, but (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gooserock, jabney, Hedwig

      some famous man of letters in Britain said words to the effect that a very brave man it was who first ate the oyster.

      Actually, prehistoric shell piles have been found worldwide, so they have been popular for a long, long time.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      •  More than likely (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gooserock, Translator

        just like a lot of foods...who opened the first coconut?...it was either by accident or because they were very hungry...

        Garrhgsfsafasd! or...where the heck is Lieber?

        by Hedwig on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 06:56:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  David Brenner had as part of one (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jabney, Hedwig

          of his routines the same thing about avocados.

          Warmest regards,

          Doc

        •  Watching Animals. Monkeys Are Legendary (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jabney, Translator, Hedwig, thegoodstraw

          copycats!

          Crows and seagulls eat shellfish by carrying them up high then dropping them onto rocks and, nowdays, paved roads. It's quite common for them to lose track of pieces or an entire shellfish, or to abandon one if a predator bird comes along.

          Living next to salt water for a time, I came across birds' shellfish debris with detectable meat in it probably several times a week. Often it was fresh enough to smell appealing.

          This must've been an extremely easy lesson to learn.

          We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

          by Gooserock on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 07:21:31 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Except for the few items (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Gooserock, jabney, Hedwig

            that some birds can eat with impunity (poison ivy berries come to mind) that humans really should not try!  LOL!

            Warmest regards,

            Doc

            •  Those People Left No Descendants But Some Well (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              jabney, Translator, Hedwig

              informed tribesmen!

              We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

              by Gooserock on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 07:30:58 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Well said! (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                jabney, Hedwig

                Can you imagine the agony of eating poison ivy if you were sensitive to it?  I never was until last year (too many exposures, so I became sensitized) and it is miserable!  Even though I had only about two square inches on my leg in toto, it was just horrible.

                Warmest regards,

                Doc

                •  I can help you with Poison ivy! (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  jabney, Translator

                  To keep in mind for next summer:

                  In the 90s I worked landscaping on Martha's Vineyard, and one summer my "resistance" to poison ivy suddenly disappeared, just as yours did. After one agonizing case that covered half my body, I discovered a product called tecnu. It's basically a mineral solvent combined with a high fat soap that removes the poison ivy oil from your skin. The oil is very tenacious, and things like alcohol aren't a strong enough solvent. Tecnu really, really works.

                  It's best if you get the oil off before a rash appears, but Tecnu still works after the rash has formed. (The reason the rash "spreads" is because the oil is actually still on your skin, and the action of moving, scratching rubbing, etc, spreads the oil further. So, if you hit it with the tecnu, at least it won't spread.)

                  The poison ivy on the Vineyard is legendarily caustic, vicious and plentiful. I have walked through patches where it stood taller than my head; and mowed entire fields of it on a mower. I would come home from work covered in poison ivy juice and jump in the shower with the Tecnu and wash every square inch of my body with it. I never got the rash again. Amazing stuff. And so simple and cheap.

                  We have very little Poison Ivy here in VT, but I still keep a bottle of the Tecnu around, just in case, because it's so damned miserable.

                  Keep it in mind for next time, because there will be a next time.

                  "'club America salutes you' says the girl on the door/we accept all major lies, we love any kind of fraud"--The Cure, "Club America"

                  by Wheever on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 08:49:27 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Thank you very much! (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    nio

                    I was not aware of that product.

                    Just as a word to the wise, mangoes are in the same family and produce minute quantities of urishiol, the allergenic toxin responsible for poison ivy reactions.  People who are extremely susceptible to poison ivy probably should not handle mangoes in their skin.  The flesh of the fruit is OK.

                    You are exactly right about the physical properties of poison ivy sap.  The urishiol is a resinoid, and is very waxy and oily, completely water insoluble, and hard to get off of the skin using just soap and water.  If any is left, you will spread it further when you scratch the inflamed areas, and might even get some in your eyes.

                    I suspect that your sensitivity to poison ivy was temporary, because studies have shown that urishiol immediately and irreversibly binds to receptors, so you are "bitten" at exposure, but certainly removing the bits of it that are on top of what already bit you is important.

                    An old folk remedy was to wash the affected parts with Jewelweed, Impatiens biflora.  How in the world can I remember those Latin names?  Euell Gibbons indicated that this was an effective treatment, and some over the counter remedies contained it, at least in the past.

                    Thank you again for the information that I am certain to find useful this spring, and we are all looking forward to spring.

                    Warmest regards,

                    Doc

                    •  You're welcome! (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Translator

                      The jewelweed thing didn't work for me at all. Not one whit.

                      That one bout went on and on. I suspect it was ongoing exposure, rather than a case of spreading the oils. I'd believe that my sensitivity has gone away again, after 16 years without exposure, but during that summer of '94 when I got that bad case, it was in high gear. After the tecnu--which I discovered later in that summer--I would still get a little itchiness around the ankles, I think because the laundry detergent didn't get the oils out completely.

                      I should mention that the Tecnu is usually available at local drug stores. That summer of '94 I was able to lay hands on a 32 oz jug of the stuff and it lasted me two seasons, washing my entire body with it, 5 days a week. It's a great product.

                      "'club America salutes you' says the girl on the door/we accept all major lies, we love any kind of fraud"--The Cure, "Club America"

                      by Wheever on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 09:26:53 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Once again, (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Wheever

                        I appreciate your information, and more than that your participation.  Please come back every week here, and join us on Friday nights for my other series, Popular Culture.  This Friday it will be about The Kinks, one of the early British Invasion bands.

                        They were quite good, and did some groundbreaking music and opened the AM, and the then fledgling, FM doors to what was then avant garde.

                        I would be honored to see a comment from you there.

                        Warmest regards,

                        Doc

              •  Yup. Unlucky losers of the game called (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Translator

                "evolution". There but for the grace of... pretty much nothing, go I.

                I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

                by punditician on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 07:40:05 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  PCBs are not extremely toxic (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator

    But they hang around, so no need to flavor oysters with them.

    Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

    by barbwires on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 07:39:04 PM PST

    •  One of the things that (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      barbwires, jabney, thegoodstraw

      we looked for when I was at FDA was PCBs in pelagic ocean fish.  There can be alarming amounts in the fattier fish, and this is not widely known.  Acutely, PCBs are not that bad, but they have really nasty long term effects, since they affect DNA and the more heavily chlorinated ones are both more toxic and more persistent.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      •  Spent several years testing them (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jabney, Translator

        I always debate the tradeoffs between omega-3s and the persistent chlorinated compounds in fatty fish.  But when it comes to sampling a bit of toro or tuna belly I can't resist!  Heavy metals are actually probably a more legitimate concern with the big predatory fish, though.

        Oh--and I love arsters, especially freshly shucked on the half shell.

        Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

        by barbwires on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 07:57:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Mercury is of particular (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          barbwires, jabney

          concern (I did a piece about that here some time ago), a third or more of it from coal fired power plants.  In some places in Arkansas, pregnant women and small children are advised not to eat any bass, a top predator, at all because of it, and bass is not that fatty.

          Warmest regards,

          Doc

  •  I used to think raw oysters were ick (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jabney, begone, Translator, thegoodstraw

    Until my late husband brought some fresh ones back from New Orleans that had been caught the day before.  The guy in the next office talked me into eating one.  Yes, it was tasty.  I ate some more.

    Growing up in Michigan's U. P., I have been eating fresh caught fresh water fish pan fried in butter since I was a kid.  Bivalves are tasty either wild caught or farmed.  

    Don't look back, something may be gaining on you. - L. "Satchel" Paige

    by arlene on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 07:40:56 PM PST

  •  As a native Marylander (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jabney, Translator

    I learned to enjoy raw oysters as a kid. Disease ravaged the local populations during the 1980's and restaurants were forced to obtain their supply from more distant locations. I've had oysters from Prince Edward Island, the Gulf of Mexico, and numerous locations in between. And although many of them were quite good, I don't think any ever matched the succulence of a fat, briny Chincoteague oyster. Although local populations are only a small fraction of what they were thirty years ago, restoration efforts have at least made the Chincoteague oyster reasonably available again. We eat them with a cocktail sauce made from ketchup, horseradish, and lemon juice. Yum!  

    "Got to kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight." - Bruce Cockburn

    by thegoodstraw on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 07:49:50 PM PST

    •  Try adding a little bit (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jabney, thegoodstraw

      of Lea and Perrin's Worcestershire sauce to your cocktail sauce.

      The seawater is a bit saltier in your region than in the Gulf, at least near the mouth of the river, so it is not surprising that yours have better taste.  The open secret is that the saltier ones harvested in the Gulf mainly go for local consumption and the lesser ones for export.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

  •  A little trivia (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jabney, begone, Translator

    On a recent visit to Montpelier (the estate of James Madison) the tour guide told us that the ice cream Dolley served their guests was made with oysters.

    Never separate the life you live from the words you speak. --Paul Wellstone

    by Cordelia Lear on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 07:50:26 PM PST

    •  Wow! I can see, with really fresh ones, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cordelia Lear, jabney, begone

      the glycogen adding some slight sweetness.  I know that you know this, but most folks do not know that very sweet dishes are often helped by the addition of a little salt, and the MSG is also a flavor enhancer.  Interesting.

      Do you have a favorite oyster recipe?

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      •  My preference (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jabney, begone, Translator

        is freshly shucked with just a quick squeeze of lemon and a dab of hot cocktail sauce (ketchup, horseradish and a drop of hot sauce).

        Never separate the life you live from the words you speak. --Paul Wellstone

        by Cordelia Lear on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 08:02:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Me, too. (3+ / 0-)

          Some of the fancy recipes for oysters are OK, like Rockefeller, etc., but gilding the lily really in not necessary.

          Warmest regards,

          Doc

          •  If the oysters are fresh (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jabney, Translator

            I personally think anything else is a waste.

            Although I will also admit to enjoying a po' boy or two on trips to New Orleans. But for my money, if I'm  going to eat a sandwich in NO I'd prefer a muffaletta.

            Never separate the life you live from the words you speak. --Paul Wellstone

            by Cordelia Lear on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 08:10:31 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Dang it! Now you are making ME (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Cordelia Lear, jabney

              hungry!  I had half of a serving of the whole wheat spaghetti with sauce and garlic bread, and was going to have the rest a bit later.  Now I want a muffaletta!

              Warmest regards,

              Doc

              •  I generally do not like olives (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Translator

                but I couldn't imagine eating a muffaletta without that wonderful relish. Well, I guess it wouldn't be a muffaletta without it, but you get the idea.

                Never separate the life you live from the words you speak. --Paul Wellstone

                by Cordelia Lear on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 08:20:54 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  That is the whole deal about them, (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Cordelia Lear

                  other than the bread that is just about unique to New Orleans.  I have tried and tried to simulate it, and have gotten pretty good, but nothing is like a Reising's pistolette.

                  Warmest regards,

                  Doc

                  •  I think I need trip to NO (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Translator

                    in order to dissect and replicate the bread.

                    Never separate the life you live from the words you speak. --Paul Wellstone

                    by Cordelia Lear on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 08:28:05 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I truly think that if I still (3+ / 0-)

                      lived there that I would weigh 300 pounds or more, rather than my girlish 165 on my 5'11" frame.  The food is just so, so good.  What I can not figure out is exactly what flour they use.  It is EXTREMELY white, to the point that the center of one looks like uncolored cotton candy.  It seems to develop quite a bit of gluten, since it is pleasantly chewy, but on the other hand, it is not tough.

                      I think that they used a highly bleached, high protein flour and not any egg (or just egg whites) in it.  I also suspect that they cook it really hot for not very long.  Those are just suppositions.  For bread, as you know, the method of rising and cooking have almost (sometimes more) influence on the final product than the ingredients.

                      Warmest regards,

                      Doc

                      •  Perhaps corn starch? (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Cordelia Lear, Translator

                        I was surprised to learn that the breading for one of my favorites, General Tsao's Chicken, is made from corn starch and not wheat flour.

                        I also know of a bread that uses cottage cheese as a significant part of the dough.  It is called Dilly Bread and won the Pillsbury bake-off back in the early 1960's.

                        •  I am not sure. Before Comment Time (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Cordelia Lear

                          tomorrow, I shall see if I can find the ingredient statement from a Reising's bag.  If not on line, I still have a couple of friends in New Orleans that might be kind enough to read them to me from a label.  Please stop by and see.

                          Warmest regards,

                          Doc

                      •  I think it is the flour (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Translator

                        that lightness is much like the baguette in Paris.  The mill is very, very fine and the protein level high.

                        No matter how good a baguette is unless it's from Paris it's not the same,

                        Never separate the life you live from the words you speak. --Paul Wellstone

                        by Cordelia Lear on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 08:54:05 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I never though about the milling. (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Cordelia Lear

                          You are likely onto something.  I suspect that, from the consistency of the interior, this is indeed a very, very fine, high protein, highly bleached flour.

                          That means that it might be possible to sift bread flour, with a high protein content through a VERY fine screen and use only the finest part of it.  Interesting idea.

                          Warmest regards,

                          Doc

                          •  Brillant idea (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Translator

                            I hadn't thought of sifting it. I shall try this. It will have to wait a while though. My oven died and I need some kitchen modifications before I can be up and running again with a new one.

                            {{{HUGS}}} for this. It gives me something to look forward to.

                            Never separate the life you live from the words you speak. --Paul Wellstone

                            by Cordelia Lear on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 09:22:11 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Cordelia with no oven? (3+ / 0-)

                            That is like Translator with no science!  It CAN NOT be!  Oh, the humanity!

                            What happened to your oven?

                            I was thinking about media through which to sift the flour, and a couple come to mind, but only one of them are food grade.

                            If you have lots of money, you can actually buy Standard Sieves and a shaker for them.  I used to use them a lot when I worked for the Army making better defensive pyrotechnic devices.  If you get stainless steel ones, they are food grade.  A comprehensive setup will only set you back around $20,000.

                            I am thinking that a standard flour sifter is the place to start, then finer material.  A trip to the local fabric store might be the next stop, but be sure to wash anything that you get well and make sure that it is completely dry before you start with it.

                            The problem comes because it takes lots of agitation to move the fines through the sieve.  With the mechanical one, a little motor keeps bumping the stack, but doing it by hand is somewhat daunting.  I would suspect that woman's nylon hose would the final particle size.  You could buy a fresh pair of the stocking ones, the coarsest weave that you can find, wash them, and then put the flour (already sifted, if possible) into it and sort of beat it against the inside of a stockpot.

                            Wait!  I just got a better idea!  This will work, too.  Tie up the presorted flour into the nylon, and then seal it inside of something like a plastic ice cream tub, the bigger the better.    Make sure to tape the lid on really tight with several turns of very sticky tape.

                            Put that assembly in your clothes dryer, with some DRY clothes to pad the impact.  Run it on cold only, and I would bet that this "sifter" would get you some very, very fine flour.  Now you see how my thought processes work.  I improvise.  Hell, I improvise when I write my posts, 10% research and the rest my syntheses of it.

                            Let me know what you find.  By the way, your comment just put this piece over 100!  Thanks!

                            Warmest regards,

                            Doc

                          •  Yes, Cordelia is running her kitchen (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Translator

                            with a counter top convection oven.  I'm doing pretty well except for bread - which as you know is a big deal at my house. No can do a baguette or my favorite Jewish rye loaf.

                            What happened - it's old (over 25 years) and was pretty much just a barely above a bottom of the line model (I wasn't as interested in cooking for a few years that surrounded the purchase). Frankly, it's been dying a slow death for years. For over 5+ years I've been doing a dance regulating the temperature.

                            I've been saving for years to get a really good stove but that requires some changes to the kitchen. With all the snow and awful weather I've been slow to start the work. I pronounced the oven dead just before Christmas.

                            As to the sifting...

                            Yes, I think I'll start with the double hand sifter - the kind where you squeeze with your hand and it goes through two layers of turning sieves.

                            The stocking idea has potential. I have to think of a way to agitate the container. I'm not sure I'm ready to put flour inside my fairly new (less than a year) HE front end dryer.

                            And maybe I have an excuse to stop by a local restaurant supply and ask for suggestions for inventing a higher level sieve on the cheap.

                            Thanks so much for the great ideas. I shall keep everyone posted once I can start baking again.

                            All best,
                            CL

                            Never separate the life you live from the words you speak. --Paul Wellstone

                            by Cordelia Lear on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 10:26:13 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Thank you, my friend! (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Cordelia Lear

                            As the Vulcans say, "infinite diversity in infinite combination brings meaning."  I think of you as a good friend, and hope that you do with me as well.

                          •  Yes I do (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Translator

                            I very much enjoy our food and cooking discussions and hope we have many more.

                            Never separate the life you live from the words you speak. --Paul Wellstone

                            by Cordelia Lear on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 10:49:24 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                      •  The very best (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Translator

                        French bread is made by the Vietnamese out in New Orleans East.  The French influence on Vietnamese bread is the best thing caused by that Indo Chinese war.

          •  Tofino oysters, (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cordelia Lear, jabney, Translator

            fresh, cooked on the BBQ, in the shell,  with a dash of butter, lemon, and a touch of spicy homemade BBQ sauce.

            Or raw.  Plain or gussied up.  Love em.

            "A Canadian is merely an unarmed American with health care." John Wing

            by marigold on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 08:13:41 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Grilled Smoked (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Translator

            Oysters have been popular at New Orleans restaurants and festivals for the past few years.  They're just put on a grill over a smoky wood fire and the lid is lowered to capture the smoke while they cook for a few minutes.

            In north Florida, they like steamed oysters, which are just oysters on the half shell briefly heated under a broiler/Salamander.

    •  Cordelia, you made me Google. How interesting! (3+ / 0-)

      One source said it was like a cream-based version of oyster stew.

      The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. (Niels Bohr)

      by begone on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 07:55:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks, Translator! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cordelia Lear, jabney, Translator

    I've finally learned a lot about oysters, thanks to this diary.

    I don't much like raw oysters, but that's okay because I'm immunocompromised. Still, I'm always encouraging my daughter to order them when we go out. She loves them, and I do get vicarious pleasure as she enjoys them. ;-)

    The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. (Niels Bohr)

    by begone on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 07:52:32 PM PST

    •  If you put them in the hot sauce (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jabney, begone

      lemon juice mixture for some time, you can eat them.  I shall look and see if I can find the LSU study about that before Review Time tomorrow, if you promise to come back and check.  Deal?

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      •  Just put returning here in my 1/31 TO DO list (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Translator

        thanks!

        The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. (Niels Bohr)

        by begone on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 07:59:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I shall do my best to find it. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          begone

          If I can not, I shall add a comment immediately below this thread to let you know, and if I do, well that space will show you what I found.

          Warmest regards,

          Doc

        •  I am back with the results of (0+ / 0-)

          my research on hot sauce and lemon juice on pathogens.

          It turns out that LSU actually did do a study in 1993 on this subject, but the very scant information that I could find indicated that they used, instead of oysters infected with that pathogen (I could not find which one it was, but I presume that it was Vibrio), aqueous samples of the pathogen.  The hot sauce actually DID kill the germs, and lemon juice did also, but less effectively.  This is all third hand, from a piece in the LA Times that I found. So far, not very promising.

          Then I remembered the South American preparation of slices of fish, ceviche.  In this dish, fish is cubed or sliced into citrus juice and allowed to macerate for more of less time, as mentioned last evening.  After some research, I found a very obscure reference to a cholera (pronounced co-LEER-a by FOX "News" readers) outbreak that was traced back to ceviche.

          My opinion now is this:  It is likely that the combination of hot sauce and lemon juice would kill the bacteria on the surface of an oyster.  However, the pathogens are deep inside of the oyster, so this would probably not be a good way to allow immunocompromised individuals to eat oysters raw, alas.  Perhaps if immersed for many hours they would be killed, but then the texture of the oyster would be so far from a real raw one as to be unrecognizable.  I am sorry that I did not have better news for you, my friend.

          My advice to you is to enjoy them vicariously.

          Warmest regards,

          Doc

  •  Oyster farming also helps fight global warming (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jabney, begone, Translator

    The formation of oyster shells requires a good bit of carbon in the form of calcium carbonate.  Perhaps oyster farming on a large scale can be part of the solution for reducing the CO2 concentration in the oceans.

    Save the planet, eat oysters!

    Spicy Oyster Stew recipe:

    1 quart  shucked oysters
    1/2 gal  whole milk
    1 quart  1/2 & 1/2
    1 jar    clam juice
    1 cup    water
    1        bell pepper
    3 TBS    dried onion
    2 TBS    Worcestershire Sauce
    1 tsp    dried basil
    2 tsp    dried tarragon
    1 tsp    garlic powder
    1/4 tsp  black pepper
    1/4 tsp  white pepper
    [hot peppers]
    1 tsp    paprika
    4 TBS    butter

    In 1-1/2 gallon or larger stock pot pour off any juice from oysters into pot and combine with clam juice and water.  Heat at high to bring to a boil.  while heating, add one of the tsp's of tarragon and a little of the garlic powder.  When the mixture comes to a boil, add half the oysters and stir gently as the pot returns to boiling.  After three minutes remove the oysters from the pot and place in a container then cover with 1/2 and 1/2.  Repeat the process with the remaining oysters and again transfer them to the 1/2 and 1/2.  This container can be refrigerated if the stew is being prepared for much later, or just set aside if the stew will be eaten within the next hour or so.  (Like many soups, this stew is much better the second and third days as the flavor has time to fully spread through the broth.)

    Now, reduce the heat to medium, dice the bell pepper and add it along with remaining garlic powder, tarragon, basil, Worcestershire, dried onion and black and white pepper.  For [hot peppers] add as many different varieties of red chilis as you can gather, small amounts of each.  Bonus points for adding a little habaneros.  The idea is to have a nice blend of different types of hot without having too much overall.  Avoid jalapenos and other green chilis as they have a different type of flavor.

    After 20 - 30 minutes the peppers should be well cooked and the dried onions well reconstituted.  Now, reduce the heat to low and allow the pot to cool for a few minutes.  Meanwhile, slowly heat the 1/2 gallon of milk via microwave to get it warm but not hot.  Now add the milk to the pot while watching closely to make sure the broth is not hot enough to curdle the milk - cause it to separate into curds and water.  From this point on the heat should always be kept low and the lid for the pot should be hidden to avoid having anyone cover it with the heat on.  Otherwise you get thin cottage cheese soup with oysters.

    When the broth becomes hot enough, add the butter and let it melt on top.  If ready to serve, the oysters and 1/2 and 1/2 can be added at this time to come to temperature.  If saving for later, only add the oysters just prior to heating to serve.  This keeps them nice and plump and juicy and avoids overcooking them.

    •  Sounds good! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kbman, jabney, begone

      Might I suggest these variations?

      Instead of dried onion, use a medium who yellow (NOT Vidalia, great for eating raw but a poor cooker) and two ribs of celery.  Dice pretty fine, and sweat them in butter (sweating is sort of like sauteing, but slower and a bit lower temperature) until the onions are clear and JUST starting to brown.  If you overdo it and make any piece dark brown or black, the whole mess will be bitter.  I find that sweating until just when the Maillard reactions begin add a sweetness and an flavor not possible either with onion flakes nor with fresh onion just added to the soup.

      Thanks for the recipe!  Although this is not What's for Dinner? you obviously have noticed that Cordelia is here.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      •  No, tried that years ago (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jabney, Translator

        The clear onions end up floating on top and dominating the stew.  Also, the dried onions absorb water from the stew and make the broth richer and creamier.

        •  OK, I see what you are getting at here. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kbman, jabney

          You are exactly right that the sweated ones do tend to float, and I had not considered the physics of that.  That is why we exchange ideas!  Obviously you have experimented with your recipe for a long time.  I like to do that as well, because perfection is an ideal that can only be approached asymptotically, and as the tangent flattens, more points are necessary.  Finally I said something Geeky tonight!

          Warmest regards,

          Doc

          •  Yes, you could say that (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Translator

            I've made variations of this stew since 1983.  For years it was my contribution to our annual Super Bowl party.  Then I moved out west and had to adapt to different oysters.  So it goes.

            •  What did you have to do (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kbman

              to adjust to the others?  And, what kind did you use out west?  Inquiring minds want to know.

              Warmest regards,

              Doc

              •  First I had to accept the economics (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Translator

                and be willing to use medium and large oysters instead of smalls.  The smalls are just too costly for stewing purposes, at least for me.  But the mediums are still quite large by east coast standards.  They take a little longer cooking, and then before adding back for serving I generally cut them up into reasonably bite-sized pieces.  They can't be cut for cooking because they'll be broken up by the boiling.  But in the relatively gentle reheating process it is OK.

                •  Thanks! I always appreciate new (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  kbman

                  knowledge.  Was the flavor pretty much the same?

                  Warmest regards,

                  Doc

                  •  Pretty much, yes (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Translator

                    It seems like any of the commercial pre-shucked oysters taste about the same as any others.  The only significant difference comes from getting oysters and shucking them fresh for the stew.  Also, there were places back east where I could buy both oysters and extra oyster juice.  In those instances I would leave out the clam juice and just use the natural oyster broth.

    •  Forgot to mention, the paprika is sprinkled on (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Translator

      at serving time as a garnish.  Also, best served with Nabisco Oyster Crackers.  These are the only kind I've found that are decent.  Others tend to be heavier and more doughy.

      •  I have found that to be true. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kbman

        I just break up regular saltines into rough quarters, and find them better than oyster crackers are, but a little more trouble.  For a couple of minutes quartering them, the result is worth it.

        They might look quite as "pretty", but they are better.  I know that eye appeal is important, but taste is paramount.

        Warmest regards,

        Doc

  •  Wonderful diary, Doc! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator

    We're far from the ocean right now, but when we head to the coast over the summer I'm going to be getting me some oysters! Yum!

    "'club America salutes you' says the girl on the door/we accept all major lies, we love any kind of fraud"--The Cure, "Club America"

    by Wheever on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 08:55:47 PM PST

    •  I am glad that you enjoyed it! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wheever

      Readership feedback is extremely important to keep me writing.  Please think of me as you eat them!

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      •  Oysters won't be for a while yet, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Translator

        but I will! I'm salivating just thinking about it.

        I always enjoy your diaries, Doc. I read them whenever I see them, and always T&R you, but I don't always comment. I'll try to comment more, because I very much want you to keep writing, and want to show my appreciation. I know I'm not alone in feeling this way about your diaries!

        Keep up the good work!

        "'club America salutes you' says the girl on the door/we accept all major lies, we love any kind of fraud"--The Cure, "Club America"

        by Wheever on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 09:33:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thank you! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Wheever

          I am sort of dumbfounded.  You know that I receive no pecuniary compensation for writing these pieces, but I DO receive a lot of intellectual and emotional compensation for them.

          I am writing a sort of unique cookbook, the preface of which will be on What's for Dinner? in a couple of weeks.  I hope to make some money, IF I can find a publisher for it.

          Thank you again for your very kind and supportive words.

          Warmest regards,

          Doc

  •  Interesting Distinction Re: Pearl Oysters (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator

    Are they edible by non-humans?

    best,

    john

    I support socialized water

    by jabney on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 10:21:09 PM PST

  •  An oyster diary of wit and (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator

    wisdom. Missing only a mention of MFK Fisher's Consider the Oyster Fisher made me want to eat oysters long before I ever had the chance to do so. But then once I had them,I found a true & enduring love.
    Thanks for a great diary.

    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Mon Jan 31, 2011 at 03:28:09 AM PST

    •  Thank you very much for (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10

      the kind words!  I try to add both information and humor here and there.  I am also sure that you know that I am a real fan of The Doctor as well.  One of the funniest bumper stickers that I ever saw was one with a line drawing of The Doctor's TARDIS, with the statement to the right saying:

      TARDIS Express.  When it absolutely, positively has to get there before you sent it.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

  •  I love oysters (0+ / 0-)

    every which way - raw, fried, Rockefeller, baked, aigs n ahsters, stews, pan roasts.

    I'm hungry!

  •  If there are only a few species (0+ / 0-)

    why are there so many varieties?  

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site