The Oyster is a bivalve mollusk that has existed since prehistoric times. More than 100 species live in colonies natural beds and banks that are to be found in most parts of the world.
During the summer, an oyster lays about 500 million eggs in the water to be fertilized by the male's sperm. Soon after that, a pinhead sized larva swims around and hatch in about ten hours. In two days shells begin to form and two weeks later pea sized "spat" sink to the bottom. Living on its hollowed out shell, the oyster grows one inch a year. Adults can live to be ten years old and reproduce billions of times. Many marine creatures eat oysters, including whelks and sea stars. Humans consume it either in fresh or dried forms. With so many predators of the oysters, only about one in a million spat will survive.
Oysters that are sold live should smell briny-fresh, and look bright and clean. Shells should be tightly closed (so that you can't pull them apart), or should close tightly when the shell is tapped; don't buy oysters with open shells. Freshly shucked oysters should be submerged in their own clear liquid (called liquor).
When you buy oysters, it is imperative to keep them alive till you are ready to cook them or serve them. Live oysters can be stored in the refrigerator, covered with wet kitchen towels or paper towels. The key is to keep them truly cold: if possible, at 0°C to 2°C (32°F to 35°F). Within that range, oysters should keep (in a live state) for about four to seven days. Be sure to remove any that die (look for open shells) during that period so they do not contaminate the remaining oysters. Do not put them in an airtight container or submerge them in fresh water, or they will die.
Shucked oysters should be kept in tightly covered containers, immersed in their liquor; they, too, should keep for up to a week. They should keep for two months if the freezer is set at -20°C(0°F) or colder. Be sure to thaw frozen oysters in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.
In the 1st century, no Roman orgy was complete without huge platters of oysters. The ancient Romans served large quantities of oysters at their banquets and learned to cultivate them. They have a long history of nourishing the human race, and have been a prized food since the pre-Christian era. Few foods can compare with oysters in terms of their nutritional value. The oyster is a well balanced nutritious food, rich in minerals such as zinc and iron, as well as vitamins A, B1, B2 and C.
Oysters are among the few shellfish that people of the world still eat alive and raw. In countless stories and legends throughout history, Oysters have been the base for Love potions. A common cause of impotence in men is zinc deficiency and the richest animal source of zinc of course Oysters. American health guidelines suggest that 15mg of zinc be included in the male diet, the British average is ony 8mg.
Oysters are also a source of Dopamine - a vital neurotransmitter which helps govern brain activity. It provokes sexual interest and triggers responses, while improving performance in both males and females. It is also said to amplify the intensity of sensation.
Health Tip: Because raw foods including oysters may carry bacteria, persons with chronic liver disease, impaired immune systems or cancer should avoid eating raw oysters.