Shucking oysters isn't as hard as you might think. Sure, it's easiest to let the restaurant do the work for you. But you might find yourself intrigued when you stop by a shop such as Blalock Seafood and Specialty Market in Gulf Shores or Orange Beach and see raw oysters waiting for you to take back to your beach vacation condo or house. 

If you get the opportunity, don't miss the Oyster Cook-off at The Hangout each fall, where you can watch the pros as they compete for bragging rights as the fastest shucker. You'll see that long gone are the days when using a flathead screwdriver to pry open the fresh oysters was the norm - now you can find specialized tools that are not only safer, but yield perfect results every time. 

Tips from a pro

Chris Sherman, a resident of Duxbury, Massachusetts, recently sat down with WBUR, a Boston-based radio station, to explain how to properly shuck an oyster. Although he lives in the Northeast, his expert advice applies no matter where you are located.

"Flip the oyster over so that the cup side is down," Sherman explained. "You put the point of the knife to the point of the hinge, and I put my thumb on the blade to kind of get a little more leverage, and then you just wiggle it and then you twist the knife."

As he's talking, Sherman is also shucking. As soon as he finishes his explanation, you can hear the satisfying sound of the oyster popping open.

Ways to prepare oysters

Raw oysters aren't for everyone, but with a touch of the right flavors, even those who are initially squeamish can become full-fledged fans. Try to warm up your family members to the delicious food by serving each oyster with a dollop of barbecue sauce or ground spicy sausage like chorizo. You could even get fancy and make oysters Rockefeller, which are served with anything from fresh herbs to spinach.

Instead of raw, you may prefer your oysters grilled, poached, baked, steamed or even pan-fried. Or use them as an ingredient in any number of dishes - for example, here in the South, oyster dressing is quite popular.

What's so great about staying at a Gulf Shores or Orange Beach rental is that you can buy the freshest oysters of the day and enjoy your freshly prepared meal in the comforts of your home away from home!