In What Months Can You Eat Oysters
You have probably heard the old saying “Only eat oysters in the months with R.” This means you should have oysters September through April and not from May through August. Experts say nowadays this rule has become obsolete since most oysters you buy in stores or restaurants are farmed oysters. That’s why today we can enjoy oysters all year round.
Where Does the Months With “R” Rule Comes From?
Back in the day, before oysters were farmed and bred for commercial purposes, the rule did make sense. When oysters were harvested from the wild, the season was closed on them during much of the R-less months so they could reproduce. Oyster in their natural habitat spawn in summer. During that time, they actually also get soft and rank. This means the oysters aren’t as tasty when they spawn. Furthermore, before we had refrigeration, it wasn’t always safe to eat the raw animals that may have been sitting in boxes on dock for hours. Another reason for the rule, was higher red tide levels in the summer, which happens when there are higher concentrations of an algae that is toxic to humans. Eating shellfish that absorb this toxin could lead to what is called paralytic shellfish poisoning. Bacteria is also more prevalent in warmer waters. Modern-day oyster farming and strict environmental rules and enforcement have changed the landscape of oyster eating so it’s now safe to eat oysters year-round. However, some experts say that oysters still taste better in fall and winter than they do in summer. You be the judge.