If you love eating oysters but know little about all the various East Coast, Gulf Coast and West Coast varieties, then we’ve got a handy reference for you.

The forthcoming book Oysters: A Celebration in the Raw is a primer on everything you need to know about these ambrosial bivalves, from where they grow and how they taste to their greater purpose in sustaining a healthy ecosystem. Its authors include the Emmy-winning television producer and writer Marion Lear Swaybill and the James Beard Award–nominated Boston chef Jeremy Sewall, with photographs by award-winning filmmaker and cinematographer Scott Snider. In the book, you’ll find more than 200 pages brimming with beautifully photographed oysters, their origins and flavor profiles, as well as helpful insights on the history and current revival of oyster farming in America.

The following is an excerpt and adaptation from the book spotlighting a dozen of the most delectable specimens from around the country, courtesy of publisher Abbeville Press:

Aunt Dotty’s

Aunt Dotty

Origin: Plymouth, Massachusetts
Grower: Skip Bennett
Flavor profile: Aunt Dotty’s have a light brine and a great sweetness to them — a rich oyster with a mineral finish.

Blue Pool

Blue Pool

Origin: Hood Canal, Washington
Grower: Adam James
Flavor profile: The Blue Pool oyster is very meaty and has a crisp, earthy sweet flavor, with a vegetable finish.

Diamond Jims

Diamond Jims

Origin: North Fork, Long Island, New York
Grower: Ted Bucci
Flavor profile: Diamond Jims have a big salt blast up front, with a chicken broth flavor that lingers.

Half Moon Selects

Half Moon Select

Origin: Half Moon Bay, Georgia
Grower: John Pelli
Flavor profile: Half Moon Selects taste like a flash of seawater with a vegetal finish.

Hog Island Sweetwaters

Hog Island Sweetwaters

Origin: Tomales Bay, California
Grower: John Finger
Flavor profile: Hog Island Sweetwaters are a little sweet, as the name would suggest, but have a great mineral finish.

Island Creeks

Island Creek

Origin: Duxbury, Massachusetts
Grower: Skip Bennett
Flavor profile: Island Creeks start with a briny pop and move into vegetal notes in the middle.

Jonathan Island Pearly Whites

Jonathan Island Pearly Whites

Origin: Narragansett, Rhode Island
Growers: Ben and Diane Franford
Flavor profile: Jonathan Island Pearly Whites are high in salt and minerality, with spinach notes.

Moon Shoal

Moon Shoal

Origin: Barnstable, Massachusetts
Grower: John Finger
Flavor profile: A nearly perfect Cape Cod oyster, the Moon Shoal has a salty and buttery flavor.

Northern Cross

Northern Cross

Origin: Fisherman’s Island, Virginia
Grower: Tim Rapine
Flavor profile: Northern Crosses have a strong vegetal flavor up front — almost like spinach — and then a great bread-like quality with strong salt on the finish, not typical for a Virginia oyster.



Origin: Clarks Cove, Maine
Grower: Carter Newell
Flavor profile: Pemaquids are plump, crisp, and salty with a slightly earthy finish.

Rocky Nooks

Rocky Nooks

Origin: Kingston, Massachusetts
Growers: Greg Barker and John Whebble
Flavor profile: Rocky Nooks have a briny and sweet start but end with a strong, earthy finish.



Origin: Shelton, Washington
Grower: Bill Taylor
Flavor profile: Shigokus are smaller than most other oysters, with a very deep cup that is full of meat, and a salty celery flavor with an earthy finish — think sunchokes and mushrooms.