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Wondering how to store your Rock Oysters? It depends on if they are shucked or live, so read on to discover the best temperature, covering and shelf life for both.

in the foreground is a freshly shucked rock oyster, plump and creamy with a deep shell. It sits on a bed of unopened oysters

Rock Oysters, the heroes of the oyster world, have a unique superpower – they can survive out of the water for up to 14 days! This remarkable ability not only gives them a complex flavour profile but can also save you a few dollars when you opt for unopened oysters.

Rock Oysters are unique to Australia, almost exclusively to New South Wales, and the South Coast is one of the few places where they be harvested from the water to go directly from tide to table.

A woman's hand holds a whole rock oyster. It is firmly closed, indicating good health

Step 1: health check.  Once you bring your oysters home, a quick quality check is essential. Healthy, live oysters will smell like the ocean, sometimes with a hint of seaweed, so when you get them home be sure to check each one. Discard any that have opened, these are dead and shouldn’t be eaten. Most farmers will give you a baker’s dozen in case this happens and don’t worry, it won’t affect the condition of the others.

A dozen large rock oysters sit unoipened on a hessian bag. They are all closed, indicating good health.

Step 2: Storing live oysters. Never store unopened oysters in ice or fresh water, it will kill them. They need to be cool, but not cold, and they also need to breathe. The ideal way to store them is to keep them in a damp hessian bag or wrapped in a damp cotton towel (never plastic), in a dark, cool place.

During the warmer Summer months, a rock oyster’s shelf life shortens from 14 to to 7 to 10 days, as their seasonal plumpness means there is less room to trap water in their shells. In our hands though, they don’t last much more than a day because we can’t wait to eat them!

Step 3, the shuck! We think shucking is a life skill AND it means that you can enjoy delicious freshly opened oysters any time you like! Ask any oyster sommelier or chef, oysters are best eaten within 30 minutes of being opened and ‘shucking to order’ is the only way. Beware though, once word gets around that you can shuck you will be in high demand, often surrounded by fascinated onlookers.

Check out Courtney Roulston’s tips in the video, it’s not as hard as you think! All you need is an oyster knife, a cloth and your oysters! (Read more in our ‘How to Shuck‘ blog.)

Step 4: Store your shucked oysters. Shucked oysters should always be covered and kept chilled at 2-5 degrees, regardless of the variety. They are also best eaten in the same day as purchase. No problems there for us, they rarely last an hour let alone a day! If you plan to take the easy option and buy shucked oysters rather than opening them yourself, remember to take an esky or chill bag and some ice bricks with you.