If you have ever heard of the oyster “R” rule, the first thing you should know is to forget it- this rule no longer applies. The R rule is old, the R rule is from the past, we no longer need the R rule!
The ‘R’ rule stated that oysters should only be eaten in months than contain the letter ‘R’. So that means you should only be enjoying oysters in September, October, November, December, January, March and April. What?!? That’s it?? What if I want an oyster in July… How did this silly logic begin and make oysters off limits in the summer?
There are several possible reasons why this rule came about and the first has to do with red tide. Red tides (where bacteria levels are very high in the ocean) most commonly occur in the warm summer months. An oyster growing in a red tide may not be safe to eat.
However, red tides are not something you have to worry about anymore. The oyster industry is so highly regulated and oyster farmers are extremely careful to care for their oysters in a safe way year-round. You will never get an oyster from a red tide these days!
Another reason the warm, summer months may be off limits is because that is when oysters spawn. In order to have more oysters, we need to give them a little break to reproduce. Spawning shellfish are also said to have a very different taste that many may find off putting. Keep in mind that there are also oysters that don’t even spawn and these oysters are available throughout the year no matter what the season!
While the ‘R’ rule may have had some merit once upon a time, oysters are pretty much always in season now. If you are still worried and dying to eat an oyster in June, ask Oysters XO if the oysters they have were commercially farmed or grown in the wild- commercial oysters are pretty safe from the ‘R’ rule.