Around the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia Coast, December is a prime time for local oyster harvesting. In nearby communities, this is a traditional time in serving oysters. When shopping for fresh local seafood, these shellfish are a good buy.
Oysters are a traditional cold season seafood in the Atlantic region. In addition to fresh wild caught oysters, farmed oysters in the shell are also available during the cool months. Locally, oysters in the shell are sold by the bushel, peck, dozen or piece. When buying oysters, one can expect to need 40-60 standard oysters to obtain a pint of raw shucked oysters and liquor.
Oysters are also available pre-shucked, in their own liquor (juice). The number of oysters per pint varies. The following estimates apply to market sizes for shucked oysters.
Extra Large or Counts - less than 20
Large or Extra Select - 20–26
Medium or Select - 26–38
Small or Standard - 38–63
Very Small - more than 63
When buying oysters for the table, quantities required will depend on the serving method. For raw oysters on the half shell, 6-12 oysters per person is a good rule of thumb.
When serving oysters in the shell, most diners will consume 12-18 oysters each. Steamed Chesapeake Bay or Virginia seaside oysters are served with melted butter, vinegar or other condiments. Sources of oysters in the shell can be found by visiting this seafood directory.
How to Shuck Oysters
How to Steam Oysters