Oysters are a delicacy that have been enjoyed for centuries, and Hilton’s TM brand oysters are no exception.
These Pacific oysters are sustainably grown in the pristine waters of the Northwest and shucked within one day of harvest to ensure maximum freshness.
But can you eat them raw?
While some may argue that raw oysters are the only way to truly experience their unique flavor, Hilton’s recommends cooking their pre-shucked oysters for the best quality.
In this article, we’ll explore the reasons behind this recommendation and provide some delicious cooking ideas for these delectable mollusks.
So, let’s dive in and discover the best ways to enjoy Hilton’s oysters!
Can You Eat Hilton’s Oysters Raw?
Hilton’s TM brand oysters are a household name and have been providing the highest quality Pacific oysters since 1946. However, it’s important to note that the pre-shucked oysters sold in jars are not recommended to be consumed raw.
This is not a health concern but rather a quality issue. While the shucked oysters are amazing and may be the best thing Hilton’s sells, they are meant to be cooked. They do not replicate the magical culinary experience of raw oysters, which is why it’s best to cook them up nice and tasty.
It’s easy to cook jarred oysters as they are pre-shucked and stored raw. You can cook them however you want, whether it’s adding them to soups and chowders or breading and frying them for a multi-textured treat.
While some people may still choose to eat pre-shucked oysters raw, it’s important to keep an eye on the best-before date on the jar. If this date has come and gone, it’s best to avoid consuming them raw.
The Risks Of Eating Raw Oysters
Raw oysters are a delicacy enjoyed by many, but they do come with some risks. Oysters are filter feeders, meaning they absorb everything in the water around them, including harmful bacteria and viruses that can cause foodborne illnesses. The most common illnesses associated with eating raw or undercooked oysters are Vibrio infection, norovirus infection, and hepatitis A.
Vibrio bacteria can cause the illness vibriosis, which can lead to severe symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, stomach pains, and weakness. Vibrio vulnificus is a specific type of Vibrio bacteria that is commonly found in waters where oysters are cultivated, such as the Gulf of Mexico. This bacterium can be particularly dangerous and even deadly for people with pre-existing health problems.
Norovirus and hepatitis A viruses can also be found in raw oysters and can cause similar symptoms as Vibrio infection. Both viruses are known to spread via the fecal-oral route, meaning that untreated sewage poses a contamination risk. Warmer waters during the summer months can also increase the concentration of Vibrio bacteria in oysters.
It’s important to note that an oyster contaminated with harmful bacteria or viruses does not look, smell, or taste any different from a safe oyster. Cooking oysters properly can kill Vibrio and other harmful germs they might contain. Therefore, it’s recommended to eat oysters cooked instead of raw to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.
Hilton’s Oyster Harvesting And Shucking Process
Hilton’s oysters are sustainably grown and harvested in the pristine waters of the Northwest on one of their farms located in Washington, Oregon, or California. The oysters start out in one of their hatcheries in Quilcene, Washington or Kona, Hawaii. To ensure the freshest oysters, they are shucked within one day of harvest.
The shucking process is done the old-fashioned way – by hand, with leverage and finesse – by their experienced team at one of their HACCP approved and SQF certified plants in South Bend, Washington, Bay City, Oregon, or Eureka, California. After shucking, the oysters are thoroughly washed three times and sorted by size and quality by their trained team. Only the finest oysters are selected to bear the name Hilton’s.
It’s important to note that the shell is separated from the trash during the shucking process. The shell is not suitable for recycling if it’s mixed with trash, so separate containers are provided for shell and trash. The shells are then dumped into bins, leaving only shells in them. Freshly shucked oyster shells should not be put in local waters to avoid contamination. The DNR properly quarantines shells for six months to prevent environmental problems and harm to local oysters or other animals.
Why Hilton’s Recommends Cooking Their Oysters
Hilton’s recommends cooking their oysters for a few reasons. Firstly, oysters are a seasonal delicacy and their availability varies with growing location. During the summer months, warm water encourages a naturally occurring saltwater bacteria called vibrio to flourish. While cooking the oysters thoroughly makes them safe to eat, it’s best to avoid consuming them raw during this time.
Secondly, Hilton’s sells pre-shucked oysters in jars that are meant to be cooked. These oysters are not of the same quality as raw oysters and do not replicate the same culinary experience. Cooking them up in a variety of ways can enhance their flavor and texture, making for a delicious meal.
Lastly, it’s important to keep an eye on the best-before date on the jar. If this date has come and gone, it’s best to avoid consuming them raw as they may not be safe to eat.
Delicious Recipes For Cooking Hilton’s Oysters
If you’re looking for some delicious recipes to cook Hilton’s oysters, we’ve got you covered. Here are three recipes that will make your taste buds sing:
1. Pan-Broiled Oysters: This recipe is quick and easy to make. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange the oysters on a baking sheet and sprinkle with herbs, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. Cook the oysters for just a few minutes until they are golden brown. Serve with crusty bread to soak up the delicious sauce.
2. Fried Oysters: This recipe is perfect for those who love a crispy texture. Mix flour, salt, pepper, garlic or ginger powder in a dish. In another dish, mix egg and milk. Dip the oysters in the flour mixture, then in the egg mixture, and finally coat with Panko breadcrumbs. Fry the oysters in hot oil or butter until golden brown on both sides. Drain excess oil on paper towels and serve immediately.
3. Creamy Oyster Soup: This recipe is perfect for chilly nights when you want something warm and comforting. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add celery and shallots and cook until tender. Heat half-and-half in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the celery and shallot mixture, then add the oysters and their liquid. Season with cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. Cook until the oysters curl at the ends. Serve immediately with fresh parsley.
These recipes are sure to impress your guests and leave them wanting more of Hilton’s delicious oysters!
Other Ways To Enjoy Hilton’s Oysters
If you’re looking for other ways to enjoy Hilton’s oysters, there are plenty of options beyond raw consumption. One popular way to prepare them is by pan-frying them in a crispy crust and serving them with a lemony butter sauce. Another option is to bread them with Panko and fry them until golden brown. You can also add them to soups, stews, and chowders for a hearty and comforting meal.
For a taste of Hilton’s oysters in a festival setting, don’t miss the Hilton Head Oyster Festival held every November. This two-day event features oysters cooked in various ways, live music, drink vendors, and an oyster shucking contest. It’s the perfect opportunity to sample the different flavors and preparations of Hilton’s oysters.
No matter how you choose to enjoy them, Hilton’s oysters are a delicious and versatile ingredient that can elevate any dish. Just remember to cook the pre-shucked oysters instead of consuming them raw for the best culinary experience.