When it comes to oysters, do you have to stick to the rule of eating them only in the months with an R?

Finally, a stretch of months containing the letter R. For many of us on the coast, that’s the sign that it’s oyster season, and time for bonfires and oysters roasts.

Before commercial oyster farms came along, the R months really were the best months for oysters. Now we can eat them anytime we want, but I personally think oysters taste better in the R months. A lightly steamed oyster straight off the grill or steamer just seems to taste better when there is a little chill in the air. 

For wild oysters, why do we stick to eating them in the R months? I decided to dig a little deeper to see what the truth is. 

The R rule was actually a good idea when oysters were harvested from the wild instead of farm raised. Due to the heat during the summer months, the amount of time that it takes to transfer wild-harvested oysters to refrigeration could cause the oysters to spoil. Also, according to LiveScience, “The summer months mark spawning season for oysters. Since most of their energy goes toward reproduction, the oysters’ meat can become unpleasantly thin and milky.” 

Most shellfish, such as oysters, are now farm raised and are stored in places that use modern refrigeration. Non-spawning oysters are usually used for oyster farming, eliminating any “thin and milky” meat. Farm-raised oysters are also very closely monitored and stay safe year round. 

After doing a bit of research, it is safe to say that if you are harvesting your own oysters, then, yes, follow the R rule — better safe than sorry. If you’re eating farm-raised oysters, you can slurp them down all year round.