The 7 Best Oyster Delivery Services of 2020

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Raw Oyster Platter
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Our Top Picks

Best Overall East Coast Oysters: Island Creek Oysters

Best Overall West Coast Oysters: Hog Island Oysters

Best for Beach Cultivated: Hama Hama

Best for Wild Oysters: Glidden Point Oyster Farms

Best for On-Demand Harvesting: Fishers Island Oyster Farm

Best for Chesapeake Bay Oysters: Rappahanock Oyster Co.

Best for Themed Bushels: Real Oyster Cult

Enjoy the ocean's most delectable slurp from the comfort of your home, thanks to a fantastic group of oyster farms around the country that ship directly to your doorstep. Whether you are a fan of East Coast or West Coast oysters, below is a selected list of some of the best oyster delivery services nationwide.

Best Overall East Coast Oysters: Island Creek Oysters - MA

Island Creek Oysters

Island Creek Oysters

Founded by a father-son team and a longtime friend, Island Creek Oysters is well recognized for its high-quality sustainable oysters and shellfish farmed in Duxbury Bay, MA. Their oysters have been featured on menus around the country, from Michelin-starred restaurants to the White House. Island Creek operates one of the only shellfish hatcheries in the northeast and is a completely vertically integrated business: They grow, harvest, and distribute their own products, aggregate and distribute shellfish, and operate a retail business, restaurant group, and international NGO (non-governmental organization). 

For those who want to enjoy their delicious East Coast oysters at home, Island creek offers overnight delivery of three different varieties: Island Creeks, Aunt Dottys, and Row 34s. Can’t pick one type? Order the sampler pack to get a taste of all three. Farming info, sizes, and detailed flavor profiles are all available online; oysters are harvested daily and come in 50-, 100-, or 200-count, depending on the variety. Diehard oyster lovers may want to sign up for the oyster of the month club for regular shipments. Need some tips on shucking oysters once you get them? Island Creek provides a very user-friendly infographic and video to walk you through the process. Free shipping is included on all orders for Tuesday through Friday delivery but comes with a surcharge for Saturday deliveries.

Best Overall West Coast Oysters: Hog Island Oysters - CA

Hog Island Oysters

Hog Island Oysters

Located in Tomales Bay, CA, Hog Island Oysters raises Pacific oysters on 160 acres of intertidal lands. Hog Island oyster farming began over 35 years ago and is now home to one of the first permitted shellfish hatcheries in California. The farm raises four of the five edible oyster varieties found in the Northern Hemisphere, plus Manila clams. Their most popular oyster, the Sweetwater Pacific, is harvested year-round while others are harvested seasonally. Choose between 36- or 60-count bags of oysters including extra-small or small Sweetwaters plus seasonal varieties such as Redwood Kumamoto Oysters or extra-small Capital Oysters.

Don’t check out without adding their infamous Chipotle Bourbon Butter to your cart—an absolute must for grilled or baked oysters. A beginner’s oyster shucking kit is also available for purchase, which includes a shucking knife, shucking glove set, and a bag of 36 extra-small Sweetwater oysters. And for some fun entertaining inspiration, opt for one of their themed boxes such as the Bloody Mary Brunch Box or BBQ Oyster Box. For regular deliveries from Hog Island, check out their oyster of the month program, available for 3, 6, or 12 months. All oysters are shipped via FedEx 2-Day Air as well as Priority Overnight to ensure the product arrives as fresh as possible. 

Best for Beach Cultivated: Hama Hama - WA

Hama Hama

Hama Hama

Hama Hama is a fifth generation family-run oyster farm in Washington state where the Hamma Hamma river flows out of the Olympic Mountains and into the Hood Canal. The oysters are known for their size, firmness, and strong, tight shells that help lock in their natural briny “liquor.” Whether you opt for their Blue Pool varieties or Hama Hamas or tiny Olympia oysters, you won’t be disappointed. Due to the tumbling method during the growing process, the Blue Pools have deeper cups and smoother shells making them ideal for shucking and an impressive presentation. They are fuller-bodied in flavor and have an “earthy sweetness.” The Hama Hamas are grown directly on the gravel, beach-hardened by the tides over time. These are known for their clean, crisp flavor that subtly changes season to season: sweeter in the spring, and brinier in the fall and winter. Both are sold in three-dozen bags. 

For a taste of some other varieties, try a sampler pack or add on a dozen of another seasonal oyster to a larger order. In addition to oysters, the Hama Hama website offers Manila clams, mussels, smoked oysters, and for extra convenience, pre-shucked oysters. Products are shipped in insulated boxes with frozen gel ice via overnight or 2-day shipping nationwide with the exception of Hawaii.

Best for Wild Oysters: Glidden Point Oyster Farms - ME

Glidden Point Oyster Farms

Glidden Point Oyster Farms

Grown in Midcoast Maine in the Damariscotta River, the oysters thrive in the clear, cold water and are one of the few oysters in the world that are hand-harvested by scuba divers. Unlike most oysters that are cultivated, Glidden Point harvests oysters grown wild in the river. Glidden Point offers three varieties: Glidden Point Oysters, Brickyard Oysters, and Damariscotta River Wild Oysters. Glidden Point Oysters are known for their beautiful appearance and sweet, briny clean flavor, perfect for shucking and eating raw on the half-shell; they come in three sizes and in counts of 36. Brickyard Oysters are named for the history of brick manufacturing in the area; these oysters have irregular shapes and twists making them harder to shuck raw but ideal for grilling, roasting, and steaming. Damariscotta Oysters have sweet plump meat, both great on the half-shell or cooked, and are also sold in bags of 50.

Free shipping is included and all oysters ship once a week on Thursdays for Friday delivery only; customers have the option to specify a delivery date when checking out. Glidden Point also offers shucking gear online if you need some tools along with your oyster order.

Best for On-Demand Harvesting: Fishers Island Oyster Farm - NY

Fishers Island Oyster Farm - NY

Fishers Island Oyster Farm - NY

Located at the eastern end of Long Island Sound, just south of New London, CT, Fishers Island Oyster Farm spawns and grows oysters. Their unique labor-intensive growing techniques contribute to producing distinctive, deep-cupped oysters with the firm, savory meat and briny flavor that changes slightly with each season. Fishers Island raises one type of oyster, harvested daily on-demand based on the orders they receive, ensuring oysters will arrive to you within 36 hours of being out of the water. Oysters are sold in counts of 50, 100, or 200.

The website has a great FAQ section with user-friendly information on storing, cleaning, and preparing oysters, as well as extensive information on their spawning, growing, and harvesting practices. Fishers Island Oyster Farm sells actual oyster seed to dozens of Northeast oyster growers and is incredibly mission-driven, focused on bringing fresh sustainable seafood to your doorstep while also benefiting the ecosystems around us. When you support Fishers Island, you also support a healthier planet; the company is a member of 1 % For the Planet, contributing 1 percent of annual sales to supporting programs for environmental stewardship. Free shipping is currently available via UPS Next-Day to customers living in a handful of states and regions on the East Coast; all other shipping charges are detailed on their website and range from $15 to $75 depending on where you live. 

Best for Chesapeake Bay Oysters: Rappahanock Oyster Co. - VA

Rappahanock Oyster Co

Rappahanock Oyster Co

Originally dating back to 1899, Rappahannock is a multi-generation family-owned oyster business in the Chesapeake Bay area of Virginia. When local oysters had all but disappeared in 2001, two cousins began a mission to revive the Chesapeake Bay Oyster. After planting their first crop of oysters in 2002, using an off-bottom aquaculture system, Rappahannock went on to become one of the first commercially viable aquaculture operations in the Chesapeake region. They have since had their oysters on the menu at the globally acclaimed restaurant Le Bernardin in New York City and have received numerous awards and accolades for their oysters as well as bar and restaurant concepts.

For those who want a taste of Chesapeake oysters in your own home kitchen, Rappahanock offers direct shipments of three varieties ranging from sweet to mild to briny in flavor: Rappahannock River Oysters, Rochambeau Oysters, and Olde Salt Oysters. If you are a fan of history and tradition, you’ll want to try the Rappahannock River Oysters, the same oyster the family company grew in 1899. Oysters are sold in counts of 25, 50 75, and 100 and shipped in mesh bags within temperature-controlled boxes via FedEx (rates will vary). Grill and fry packages as well as hot sauce condiments are also available for purchase.

Best for Themed Bushels: Real Oyster Cult

Real Oyster Cult

Real Oyster Cult

While the other companies listed operate primarily as oyster farms, Real Oyster Cult acts as a tech platform to connect oyster farmers from around the country and beyond with customers; shipping is all managed through a partner shellfish company in Boston. They also operate their own farm in Duxbury Bay, MA, where they can harvest oysters directly. Customers can browse their updated selection online and choose from peak-season single variety oysters or themed bundles such as the Feast On This package, which includes a mix of special ROC Reserve Oysters from their own farm, along with mignonettes, PEI mussels, Jonah crab, and Maine lobster. Oyster selections vary on a regular basis but will always be well-curated and include a mix of oysters, including premium hard-to-find varieties. Real Oyster Cult also offers an oyster of the month club where you can be surprised with a new selection of oysters every month. Shipping is free in New England and otherwise varies based on location. Customers can select delivery dates in advance but delivery days are only on Tuesdays and Fridays.

FAQs

What are the differences between oyster varieties?

Although there seem to be dozens of varieties of oysters available on the market, there are only five species commercially grown in North America. Of those five species, there are only two major categories: flat oysters and cupped oysters. Oysters are also categorized by East Coast and West Coast or Atlantic vs. Pacific, with primary differences in appearance, texture, and flavor. East Coast oysters tend to have smoother or flatter shells in a teardrop shape, with firmer meat and a brinier savory flavor, whereas West Coast oysters have more ruffled or ridged cupped shells with creamier meat that can be sweeter in flavor, sometimes with hints of melon and cucumber, in addition to some natural brininess.  

Because oysters filter water, the flavor differences are primarily determined by the environment in which they are grown, known as the meroir (similar to a wine’s terroir). The water’s natural salinity, sediments, and algae will all impact the flavor of the oyster in addition to cultivation techniques. For those who want some extra guidance before ordering, all of the oyster farms featured in this article provide very detailed information about the oysters' flavors on their websites.

Is it true that oysters aren’t good unless they are eaten during a month with the letter “R”?

No, in fact, most oysters can be eaten year-round if they come from healthy waters and are stored properly. The “R” myth dates back to days before refrigeration and also before highly controlled cultivated oyster farms. The months without “R” are warmer months (May through August); before refrigeration, this would pose obvious food safety risks. The warmer temperatures also affect the temperature of the water itself. Most oysters (unless genetically altered to be sterile) will spawn in the summer when water temperatures are warm, naturally causing the oysters to be soft and less flavorful. Warmer waters also tend to harbor more bacteria, increasing the risk of contamination, particularly when consumed raw. However, the majority of oysters available in the U.S. are cultivated in water with very cold temperatures such as in the Northeast, making them available year-round. Growing, harvesting, and storing techniques are also much more tightly regulated and controlled than ever before, resulting in stricter food safety practices overall. The bottom line: if you want to enjoy oysters year-round, just make sure they are coming from a farm with cold, clean water and kept cool once harvested. 

Do I need to worry about food safety when ordering oysters?

Eating raw seafood of any kind can potentially pose some risk; however, any oysters being shipped are carefully packaged in insulated cooler containers via 2-day or overnight shipping to maintain freshness. If oysters arrive and are not still cold, have cracked or open shells that do not close tightly when tapped, or smell of anything other than the sea, they should not be consumed. Any oysters purchased pre-shucked are recommended to be cooked. 

What is the best way to store fresh oysters once they arrive?

Oysters need to be kept cold (34 to 45 F), damp, and able to breathe (do not submerge oysters in water). They should be refrigerated in a shallow container covered with a wet kitchen towel. If you have cupped oysters, the deep-cup side should be facing down.  

How many days do I have to eat them once they arrive?

Oysters are best eaten within a few days of receiving but can remain fresh for about 5 to 7 days when carefully stored. If oysters have tightly sealed shells and enough natural liquor, or are dormant in winter months, they may even last longer, up to 10 days. 

I love oysters but don’t know how to shuck them. Are there any good resources for learning how to shuck my own?

Yes, nearly every website listed above has tutorials on oyster shucking, or follow a few steps using some simple tools.

How We Chose the Best Oyster Delivery

There were numerous factors considered when making final selections for this list, particularly due to the extensive number of quality oyster farms around the country. A mix of both East and West Coast oyster farms are included as well as a range of species and cultivation techniques. The farms’ transparency around their growing, harvesting, and storing practices in addition to their overall reputation in the industry were important parts of the selection process. User-friendly ordering and the quality of information available to customers about oysters in general, as well as each specific variety, were also taken into account. 

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