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South Bay Blonde oysters are planted in an upweller then transferred to float cages to provide optimal nutrients for healthy growth and a superior flavor profile. With an average size of 3" - 3 1/2" across, they are tumbled to provide a smooth, dense, manicured shell.
Farmer: The Suddard family has been oystering in Wareham for more than 100 years. The coastal leases they work today were granted by a Civil War General to the late Ben Suddard’s great-grandfather.
Flavor Profile: Salty, slightly sweet brininess with a complementing minerality, with hints of butter, celery and eelgrass.
Duxbury Bay’s unique tidal flow and cool waters combine with high salinity to create the perfect growing environment for oysters. Recognized for their salty-sweet balance and clean finish, the Duxbury oyster has remarkable consistency of texture and taste throughout the four seasons.
The seed is raised in upwellers, bags, and cages, then bottom-planted when it’s about 1.5 inches, where it grows into a firm, strong-shelled, rich-tasting three-inch oyster. Harvesting is done by hand or dredge, depending on the tides.
Farmer: Iconic Merry Duxbury oysters are grown by Don Merry, one of the original Island Creekers. All Merry oysters are raised and harvested on Don’s lease in Duxbury Bay using solar power and sustainable, low impact practices. Don is committed to running a green farm and is continually working to improve his environmental footprint.
Flavor Profile: Merry oysters are very briny with plump meats set in deep cups with a sweet, buttery finish.
Davenport oysters are inter-tidally grown on the shore of Cape Cod Bay. Oyster seed is purchased from Fishers Island Oyster Farm in New York every June/July. The baby oysters are set in grow-out bags and tied down on PVC racks until they reach the size of a silver dollar. They are finished off in metal cages, plastic aquatrays, or larger aperture mesh bags before being harvested for market.
Off-bottom grow out gives the farmers control over the size, shape, and mortality of the oysters. The typical length of time from seed to plate is 18-24 months.
Farmer: Three generations of Davenports can sometimes be seen farming the tide. Jim, his son Jamie, Jamie's three boys, Jackson, Maxwell, and Rhys, and Jim's grandson Adam all put in their time on the farm.
Flavor Profile: salty and buttery with a slight sweetness in the finish.
Crobar Cups are planted in grow-out bags using the classic French rack-and-bag system. The oysters are ready for market once they reach ‘petit’ or ‘cocktail’ oyster size at just under 3 inches, or over 3 inches as ‘select’ oysters.
Farmer: Chris Crobar has a two-acre farm in Cape Cod Bay in Eastham, the town he grew up in. He has been oystering for the last 7 years but has been in the shellfish industry since he was a kid on his dad’s clam boat.
Flavor Profile: meaty, clean, mild brine
Cotuit Oysters are recognized for their unique briny flavor. Freshwater streams, marshes and estuaries combined with the clean water entering from Nantucket Sound provide the oysters with a rich food supply.
The oysters are tumbled several times while they are growing. After they reach the desired size, they are bottom planted on the hard sand for the remainder of their life cycle. This combination produces an oyster that has a hard shell making them easier to shuck. They range in size from petite to large.
Farmer: Chris Gargiulo leases five shellfish aquaculture grants in Cotuit Bay totaling nearly 34 acres. Each site is used for different phases of the grow-out process. Predation, habitat, and depth all play critical roles in where each stage of the oyster life cycle takes place. Cotuit Oyster Company dates back to 1857 and produced one of the oldest brand name of oysters in the US.
Flavor Profile: moderately salty with a sweet finish.
Chatham Shellfish Company has been cultivating Chatham Oysters on its lease site since 1976. The well-known oyster with year-round availability has captivated oyster aficionado’s attention for decades. Oysters are available in petite, small, and extra-large sizes. These grades of the Chatham Oyster are selected for their deep cup and round shape.
Farmer: Stephen Wright began with Chatham Shellfish Co. in 2000 after graduating from the University of Maine with a degree in Aquaculture. He has been passionately farming oysters and managing farm operations ever since.
Flavor Profile: Strong mineral brine and plump, rich meats with a lingering slate finish.
Cotuit Oyster Company
Shellfish farming in particular may be the only form of commercial-scale protein production that provides a net benefit to the environment where it is grown. Oysters are natural ocean cleaners and protect the ecosystem
As close as you can get to wild oyster growing. Spat is spread on the ocean floor and thrives in the same water and living conditions as wild oysters. Pros: produces tough and healthy shells. Cons: farmers lose oysters to nature.
The salty liquid or “liquor” of an oyster. Oysters take on the salinity of the water they grow in.
Metal cages that hold bags of oyster seed to protect them from predators and harsh ocean conditions. Cages are turned to evenly distribute access to tidal flow and food.
Housed inside cages, they provide more protection to the oysters.
Adapted from French aquaculture. Hundreds of oysters are placed in grow-out bags fastened to rebar racks to elevate the oysters above the ocean floor. This elevation allows superior tidal flow to encompass the oysters so they can easily feast on natural phytoplankton and nutrients in the water column.
Methods of growing that keeps oysters above the ocean floor. Pros: oysters are more enclosed and protected, producing higher yield. Cons: More money and effort spent on growing gear.
Floating oysters typically never dry out and get the benefit of high wave activity that naturally tumbles them.
Baby oysters after they have set to a grow structure. It’s common for oyster farmers to buy spat that has been spawned and fertilized in a hatchery.
Trays serve the same function as grow-out bags but can be stacked to maximize space.
Promotes uniform and strong shells by chiseling oysters in a tumbler or naturally by tides.
A water flow system that constantly pumps nutrient-rich water up through and around the oyster seed to feed them phytoplankton and other nutrients.