The disruptions caused by the COVID-19 crisis hit oyster farmers in the Chesapeake Bay hard. When restaurants around the region were closing their doors, our partners in the Chesapeake Oyster Alliance and the Maryland Shellfish Growers Network were figuring out new ways to bring the tasty bivalve to your plate, stepping up their delivery and pickup programs to get oysters directly to you!
While restaurants are re-opening, traffic is expected to be lower than pre-COVID levels for a while and local farmers continue to need your help. Get your oysters from a local company that is helping to save the Bay. See our list below for Virginia and Maryland farms where you can find Chesapeake Bay oysters for sale.
Love oysters but aren't sure how to shuck your own? Want to know the "proper" way to eat an oyster? See our videos below.
Recycle Those Oyster Shells
With restaurant dining still restricted, oyster restoration efforts are facing a depleted supply of the shells needed to stock sanctuary oyster reefs. The dozens of Maryland and Virginia restaurants that participate in CBF’s shell recycling program save empty oyster shells after meals, which are picked up by volunteers and brought to shell collection bins. These empty shells are cleaned and eventually become homes for the baby oysters that attach to them. CBF restoration experts plant the shells and baby oysters on sanctuary reefs off-limits to harvest. You can help bring back oysters in the Chesapeake by dropping off your empty shells at designated bins around Maryland and Virginia. They’ll eventually form homes for oysters, crabs, and fish on a new sanctuary reef. Check our current lists of shell recycling locations.
How to Shuck (and Eat!) an Oyster
Extended time at home is the perfect opportunity to learn how to shuck and savor a Chesapeake Bay oyster! And who better to teach you than the pros:
Learn to Shuck with the Oyster Ninja
Gardner Douglas (a.k.a. “The Oyster Ninja”) is a nationally ranked oyster shucker.
How to Shuck an Oyster with Champion Oyster Shucker Deborah Pratt
Deborah Pratt is known the world over for her speedy shucking. She's traveled the globe to attend—and win—shucking competitions and has even been featured in Southern Living magazine.
The Proper Way to Eat an Oyster
Johnny Shockley, founding partner at Hoopers Island Oyster Co., knows the oyster biz in and out. He knows a thing or two about how to best enjoy a raw oyster!
Make Emeril Lagasse's Chesapeake Bay Baked Oyster Dressing
When CBF's former Oyster and Fisheries Scientist Tommy Leggett got tagged to appear on the Emeril Green show back in 2008, we were all pretty excited. Emeril brought Tommy and his fresh Chesapeake Bay oysters to the show's kitchen in the Whole Foods store in Fairfax, Virginia.
Emeril's Chesapeake Bay Baked Oyster Dressing
- 2 dozen shucked oysters, with their liquor
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 1 cup chopped bell peppers
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1 cup water
- 4 cups cubed white bread
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Drain the oysters, reserving 1 cup of the liquor. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, celery, salt, and cayenne. Saute‚ for about 5 minutes, or until wilted. Add the bay leaves, garlic, and parsley. Saute‚ for about 1 minute.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the bread mixture with the oyster liquor and enough water to moisten.
- Add the moistened breadcrumbs to the vegetables in the skillet and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the oysters and the Parmesan cheese. Stir to mix well and remove from the heat.
- Oil a 9 X 11-inch baking pan and pour in the mixture. Top with more Parmesan and bake for about 1 hour, or until bubbly and golden brown.
- Remove the bay leaves and serve hot.
This recipe was originally featured on the A Local Thanksgiving Episode of Emeril Green, Lagasse's original series on Discovery Channel's Planet Green network, courtesy Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc.