Are Oysters Male or Female?

Oysters on the Half Shell
Oysters on the Half Shell

Are oysters male or female? And if an oyster is male, can it change into a female?  Questions which may have caused you toss and turn at night. Well toss and turn no more.  This blog is going to give you a whole new attitude toward these fruits of the sea.

First, if an oyster is fixed with a lot of “stuff” piled up on it, I will eat it. Not a many, but definitely a few. I was at happy hour with my girlfriends and took this photo. Here’s what I like about these particular oysters. First, they are basking on a bed of salt. (Does anyone know if it’s ok to eat a rock or two off the plate? Because I’d almost rather eat the salt.) I also like that there is lemon and the bowl with some mixture (I can’t remember what was in it, but it was pretty good). But here’s what was missing – horseradish and tabasco sauce. If there is anything else I should try on an oyster, please let me know.

So there are a few facts about these slippery little morsels that you can share on a date or, at a party. I must warn you. If you’ve never eaten an oyster, this information may make you NEVER eat one, ever. And if you love them…well maybe you should know a little bit more about what you’re getting yourself into.

1. Is It a Male or Female Oyster? Here’s a fact that surprised me – oysters have both eggs, as well as sperm, so oysters have the ability to change their sexes, which they do, at least once. (Which makes me once again think twice before eating one.) Not something I’d bring up on a hot date as a topic of discussion, but interesting.

2. What’s that about an R? Probably most people have heard about the relationship oysters and “R’s” have been having over the years. If you’re in a month with an “R”, the oysters you’re going to eat will be tastier. These months include May-August, which are of course the hottest months during the year. It makes a lot of sense – way back when, people were advised against eating oysters during these months because of the lack of proper refrigeration.  I knew someone who got sick on an oyster once and it was quite a while before I ate another one. So start slurping them down now because May is just a month away.

3. How do you know if an oyster is alive? There’s one sure way to tell if an oyster is alive. If its shell is open, just tap on it with your fingers, and it snaps shut, then it’s alive. (Sorry, sorry! Are we eating them alive???)

4. Oysters breathe like fish: Oysters contain both gills and mantle which allows them to breathe.  Here’s something that will make you charge over to the nearest bar and place an order: Oysters also have stomachs, intestines, and they have hearts that pump a clear blood (we’re eating raw blood???), along with the oxygen, through their bodies. And if that’s not enough, their kidneys clean impurities from their blood. (Yummmm….)

5. Let’s get to something I can really relate to – Pearls…..Oysters produce very few pearls naturally. (Probably because they are too busy switching back and forth between being a male and female.) Most pearls begin with human intervention. Pieces of shells or beads are inserted inside an oyster. The oyster then covers the foreign substance with layers of protein and calcium and voilà! A pearl is produced. Too bad I couldn’t place a rock in a canvas bag, place it in my dryer and voila, a Gucci bag is produced.

6. And can oysters enhance your love life? If you click FOLLOW I might answer that question in a follow up blog…and you’ll be the first to hear. 😉