How to Tumble an Oyster

Dec 02, 2010

Tide tumbling is one of the nicest things to happen to oysters in years. The first tumbled oyster on the market was the Kusshi—immediately recognizable for its smooth, polished, cornucopia-shaped shells. That’s the result of them being run through a barrel tumbler every so often, which breaks up the growing lip of their shell and forces them to “cup up.” That style of tumbling is labor intensive, so a while back some clever oyster farmers in Australia came up with a low-maintenance, energy-friendly idea: Stick the oysters in bags that are strung through lines a couple of feet above the high-tide line, and attach floats to the bags that go up and down with the tides. Every day, the tides go up and down, the oysters go round and round, and the result (after a couple of years) is a fat little sucker perfect for slurping, instead of a long, skinny “banana.” Think of the difference between Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Hardy makes a better oyster. Most people love tide-tumbled oysters such as Chelsea Gems, Shigokus, and Shibumis. Learn more, and see more photos, at Lissa James’s sensational Hama Hama oyster blog. And look for tumbled Hama Hamas in raw bars soon!

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