Fancy oyster stew but have no fresh oysters to hand? Why not grab some canned oysters off the shelf and make a quick and tasty stew with those? If you live far from the coast or it is difficult (and expensive) to source fresh oysters, or you do not have the spare time to shuck them, then canned oysters are a great and nutritious alternative. Canned smoked oysters also make a tasty topping for crackers.In this review we look at some of the best canned oysters available, whether you prefer whole boiled oysters for cooking with or some smoked oysters to have with cocktails. We also consider the nutritional profile of canned oysters and where this can differ from fresh oysters and we look at some of the benefits that eating canned oysters may bring to our lifestyle.
The Crown Prince Natural boiled whole oysters in water are our Non-GMO Project Verified and sustainably sourced best pick of the canned oysters.
The Ocean Prince cocktail smoked oysters in cottonseed oil are our budget pick of canned oysters which are perfectly sized for cracker snacks.
Table of Contents
- Quick Comparison: Top 8 Best Canned Oysters
- 1. Crown Price Natural Boiled Whole Oysters
- 2. Ocean Prince Cocktail Smoked Oysters in Cottonseed Oil
- 3. Reese Medium Smoked Oysters
- 4. Brunswick Smoked Oysters
- 5. Crown Prince Whole Boiled Oysters
- 6. Ekone Oyster Company Smoked Oysters
- 7. Roland Oysters Premium Smoked Oysters
- 8. MW Polar Boiled Oysters
- Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Canned Smoked Oysters
Quick Comparison: Top 8 Best Canned Oysters
1. Crown Price Natural Boiled Whole Oysters
Coming as a 12 case of 8 oz cans with ring-pulls, the Crown Prince Natural boiled whole oysters in water are Non-GMO Project Verified. These oysters are sourced from sustainably managed fisheries in South Korea and just contain whole oysters, water and salt. Some have found that these oysters can be ‘mushier’ and like any canned seafood there can be a risk of shell fragments.
2. Ocean Prince Cocktail Smoked Oysters in Cottonseed Oil
These Ocean Prince cocktail smoked oysters in cottonseed oil come as an 18 case of 3 oz ring-pull cans. These oysters have been naturally wood smoked and are sourced from managed fisheries in China. As more of a budget line than one of the best canned smoked oysters, these may contain more fragments of shell and the oysters can be mixed sizes, including smaller oysters. These may not be whole oysters either; instead as a ‘cocktail’ version, they are smaller pieces.
3. Reese Medium Smoked Oysters
Smoked in cherrywood, the Reese medium smoked oysters are packed in cottonseed oil. Produced in China, these come as a ten pack of 3.7 oz ring-pull cans. As medium sized oysters, their smaller size allows for easier cooking without allowing their texture to take over the dish. A small number of buyers consider these have been over-smoked and dried out too much
4. Brunswick Smoked Oysters
The case of 12 ring-pull 3 oz cans of Brunswick smoked oysters are sourced from managed fisheries in China. These smoked oysters are in cottonseed oil and are sized for crackers, although some buyers consider that these lack flavor compared to other smoked oysters.
5. Crown Prince Whole Boiled Oysters
Sourced from sustainably managed fisheries in South Korea, the Crown Prince whole boiled oysters are packed with water and salt. Coming as a 12 case of larger 8 oz cans with ring-pulls, the size of these oysters can vary, but usually a can will be all small or all large, rather than mixed sizes in each can. Some buyers have found these a little ‘mushy’.
6. Ekone Oyster Company Smoked Oysters
The Ekone Oyster Company smoked oysters are farmed sustainably from fisheries located in Willapa Bay, Washington and produced and canned in the US. These come as six 3 oz cans with ring-pulls and are steamed open rather than shucked to preserve their moisture, then small batch brined and smoked using maple chips.These are also longline grown, which means that they do not collect as much sand and grit, but this encourages the oysters to grow into a large and firm shape and this farming method also helps protect seabed habitats. As US sourced oysters, these best canned smoked oysters do carry a price premium and a small number of buyers have found these to be dried out with a rubbery texture. Although these have been longline farmed, a small number of buyers have found these to be particularly gritty oysters.
7. Roland Oysters Premium Smoked Oysters
The Roland Oysters premium smoked oysters (petite) are sourced from Pacific waters and packed in cottonseed oil. Coming as a case of ten, 3 oz cans with ring-pulls, these can be more mushy than other smoked oysters and some have found them to be overcooked. There is also no information as to what wood these have been smoked with or whether it is just smoked flavor.
8. MW Polar Boiled Oysters
Whole oysters in water and salt, the MW Polar oysters come in a 12 case of larger 8 oz cans. These oysters are farm raised and have been sourced from Korea. These whole oysters are also free from biotoxins and heavy metals. There can be a risk of these cans being damaged during shipping and as the cans do not have ring-pulls, they may be more difficult to open.
Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Canned Smoked Oysters
Oysters sourced for canning are removed from their shells usually by steaming process then shucking, or just shucking, before going through the canning process. Plain canned oysters are available in different sized cans, while canned smoked oysters usually only come as 3 oz cans.
Because canned oysters may contain shell fragments, you are usually advised to rinse the oysters before using, however, as you will see in this article, the brine and oil of canned oysters can be just as nutritious as the oysters themselves, care should be taken not to remove excess when washing the oysters.
Canned oysters actually contain more nutrients such as vitamins B and K than fresh oysters, but as some of this nutrition is in the brine or oil of the can, this needs consuming to extract the maximum amount of nutrition from the can. Oysters are naturally high in sodium which means that canned oysters do contain more sodium than fresh oysters as salt is usually added to the water they are preserved in.
Because smoked oysters are usually preserved in oil, the extra fat can add to daily calorie intake. Many smoked oysters are packed in cottonseed oil. There is some anecdotal and small-scale research linking cottonseed oil to health benefits, but as cottonseed oil is high in saturated fat this can contribute to higher amounts of LDL and total cholesterol. Cottonseed oil is also high in polyunsaturated fat, which like olive oil, may help lower LDL and raise HDL cholesterol.
Oysters are naturally high in protein which makes them suitable for a range of diets including keto.
Cooking with Canned Oysters
Canned oysters with creamed soup and some seasoning makes a quick oyster stew or you can add milk and vegetables to canned oysters to make a quick and tasty soup. Other options include adding canned oysters to bacon, stock and herbs to make an oyster stuffing for meats or using them in pasta dishes. Canned oysters can also be drained, coated and baked in the oven or deep fried.
The best canned smoked oysters can be enjoyed as they are on crackers or added to salads or pasta dishes. You can add some olive oil, lemon juice celery and seasonings to make a sandwich filling or bruschetta topping or substitute clams for smoked oysters in a chowder recipe.
If you want to warm your smoked oysters, you can just crack the seal on the tin and gently warm the tin up in the oven and then serve.
Storing Canned Oysters
Canned oysters are shelf stable for up to one year when stored in a cool and dry place. They may be safe to use after the ‘best by’ date, but you should check for any signs of damage to the can or spoilage of the oysters before consuming.
Once canned oysters are open, they should be refrigerated in a glass or plastic container and used within two days. Canned oysters can also be frozen in the same way that you would freeze raw oysters. This allows you to store them for much longer once opened.
Oyster Nutritional Content
A one cup serving of raw oysters and canned oysters which have not been drained contain the following:
Canned oysters actually contain more vitamin A and Bs, phosphorous, potassium and magnesium than fresh oysters and because of the addition of acid during canning, canned oysters also contain vitamin C.
Fresh oysters have more vitamin K than canned oysters and both types contain the same amount of vitamin E. All forms of oysters are rich in selenium and contain all nine essential amino acids (those which the body has to obtain from the diet). Known as the ‘building blocks of life’, amino acids are what is left when proteins are digested or broken down in our body. These amino acids are then made into proteins by the body to help with repairing body tissues, growth, breaking down foods and many other functions.
Canned smoked oysters are a particularly rich source of dietary iron, with one serving containing as much as 200% of the daily RDI of iron for adults. Iron has many vital roles in the body including for energy, immunity, body temperature regulation and gastrointestinal processes. A lack of iron leads to anemia which is recognized by fatigue, pale skin, breathlessness and heart palpitations.
Those who are pregnant need to consume more iron - around 27 milligrams per day - because the production of red blood cells and the volume of blood has to increase dramatically during pregnancy to supply the fetus. A reduction in iron content can not only lead to anemia, but it can also increase the risk of premature birth and lower birth weights.
If you were to look at the nutrition in one cup of drained canned oysters, some of the values can vary drastically. This is because some of the water soluble vitamins, such as the Bs, leach into the water during the canning process. This means you need to use at least some of the canning liquid to obtain the maximum amount of these vitamins as possible.
The sodium content in raw or canned oysters can contribute between 7.7% and 18.5% - or almost one fifth - of our American Heart Association recommended 1,500 milligrams daily intake of sodium. Canned smoked oysters can contain even higher sodium levels – as much as 330 milligrams per serving.
Canned smoked oysters in olive oil also offer additional vitamin E and some polyphenols which can help with lowering LDL cholesterol. Although most oil is usually drained from the oysters, if you leave enough oil to coat them, this will help keep the additional nutrition when the oysters are served up.
Benefits of Consuming Oysters
Researchers suggest that it is the higher quantities of vitamin C and zinc which contribute to oyster’s long-standing reputation as a libido booster!
Oysters are also a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, with a serving of smoked oysters containing almost half a gram of omega-3. Because the body cannot produce omega-3, we need to obtain it through our diet from sources such as fatty fish.
Omega-3s may help prevent heart disease. They have been shown to be able to reduce blood pressure in those with high blood pressure, cause major reductions of up to 30% of triglyceride levels and keep our blood platelets from clumping which can help reduce the risk of blood clots which can harm the body.
They have also been shown to help prevent the plaque which can form in arteries and raise levels of HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol.
Omega-3s have also demonstrated a role in reducing levels of substances and molecules which are linked to the inflammatory response in the body. Chronic inflammation is linked with most major diseases, including heart disease.
Omega 3s may also improve mental wellbeing; with the possibility that omega-3 supplementation may reduce mood swing frequency in those with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. They may also help minimize age-related mental decline and may play a role at the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Omega 3s are linked with reducing the risk of specific cancers, asthma in children, improvements in joint and bone health, reduction of liver fat, improvement in sleep and benefits for the skin.
Oysters are a good source of the essential trace mineral selenium. This mineral is essential for DNA synthesis, thyroid hormone metabolism and it helps protect against infection and oxidative damage. Selenium could also protect against heart disease, age-related mental decline and thyroid disorders.
Back in 2003, the FDA said that ‘some scientific evidence suggests that consumption of selenium may reduce the risk of certain forms of cancer’. It may also help protect against cancer.
Although vitamin K can be made by the body and is found in green leafy vegetables; oysters, fish and seafoods are also a vitamin K source. Vitamin K helps make four of the 13 proteins that the body needs for blood clotting and vitamin K also works with vitamin D to ensure calcium moves to bones to support their development.
Vitamin K has a positive effect on bone mineral density which means it also lowers fracture risk. Research has found that women who have an adequate dietary vitamin K intake have less risk of breaking a hip.
The Antioxidant DHMBA
As well as being nutrient-rich, oysters also contain the unique antioxidant DHMBA (3,5-Dihydroxy-4-methoxybenzyl alcohol) which has only recently been discovered.
This compound is able to act as a powerful antioxidant and laboratory studies showed that it was 15 times more powerful in fighting oxidative stress than a synthetic form of vitamin E which is commonly used to prevent oxidative stress damage.
DHMBA may be of interest for liver health as one research study showed it was able to protect human liver cells from damage or even cell death caused by induced oxidative stress. Another study showed that DHMBA was able to reduce oxidation of ‘bad’ or LDL cholesterol – a chemical reaction which contributes to the build-up of plaque in the arteries. Known as atherosclerosis, this is a key risk factor for heart disease.
Safety of Canned Oysters
Unlike raw oysters which are at risk of being contaminated with Vibrio bacteria, canned oysters do not have this same risk as the canning process destroys these and other pathogens. Canning also makes oysters the safer option for those who are pregnant or have less ability to fight off infection.
Most cases of vibriosis arise from eating raw or undercooked oysters, mussels or clams. Because oysters draw in water, they also draw in bacteria and viruses and these build up in the oyster and can then infect us when we eat them raw or undercooked. Around 80,000 people contract vibriosis in the US every year and although many will only suffer mild illness with vomiting and diarrhea, there are around 100 deaths from vibriosis; usually during May to October when water temperatures are warmer.
Canned oysters are high in zinc though, and canned smoked oysters as a food contain the most zinc. Consuming over 200 milligrams per day of zinc can cause side effects such as digestive upset, irritability and even anemia. Even lower doses of zinc can affect absorption of some nutrients, as well as longer term impacts such as blood lipids, immunity and cardiac function.
Mercury levels in seafood is a concern shared by many. Although mercury is a natural element found in all living things, water and air, it does enter the food chain through pollution, burning of fossil fuels and natural recycling.
All fish and seafood contain trace levels of mercury and levels can vary greatly. Fish such as shark, swordfish and bluefin tuna often contain the highest levels of mercury while fish such as salmon, and cod and seafood such as oysters, scallops, shrimp and clams contain very low levels of mercury.
The FDA has responsibility for all fish and seafood products entering the US. Some of the ways in which the FDA assesses safety and compliance is through sampling seafoods offered for import into the US, inspecting the importers, sampling imported products and foreign country assessment and inspection of foreign processing facilities.
Like any food or meat which is smoked, smoked oysters also contain chemicals known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These are generated when meats, fish, seafood and other foods are smoked. PAHs can only damage our DNA if they have been ‘bioactivated’ in our bodies – which means the PAHs have to be metabolized by certain enzymes.
Different people have different activity of these enzymes which may impact upon any direct cancer risk which may be associated with exposure to PAHs. Although most research is focusing on meat smoking, the findings also relate to fish and seafood as like meat, these are protein rich foods.
Canned oysters are the easiest way to ensure you always have oysters to hand to add to a recipe, or even just for a quick snack. Canned oysters are also safer than fresh oysters as the canning process removes harmful pathogens such as Vibrio which in raw or undercooked oysters can cause food poisoning. Although canned oysters can contain less of some nutrients than fresh oysters, they actually contain more of others.We trust that you have enjoyed our review of canned oysters and everything related and that we have provided you with the information that you need to choose the best canned oysters for your kitchen cupboard, even if you just want the occasional can to hand for a late night treat on some saltines.