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It’s easy! If the oyster’s shell is held shut, that means it’s alive and has a functioning immune system, and is safe to eat. Oysters hold their shells shut with their “foot” muscle, and this muscle relaxes immediately when it dies. If the shell is gapped open, even a small amount, the Oyster is dead and is not safe to eat.

This is a great question, and not as straightforward as it seems. For most animals, being farm raised means that they will be consuming different food than their wild counterparts their entire lives, resulting in an inferior final product. However, cultured oysters filter the same water and hence eat the exact same food as wild oysters, so the only differences are that they are protected from predators and handled to create a better shape, deeper cup, and a higher glycogen content. So I can confidently say that cultured oysters are clearly superior to their wild counterparts.

There are several ways to shuck an Oyster, but the best is to go in at the hinge (the pointy end) and lever the shell up from there. The Oyster has to cooperate of course, by having a defined hinge and a strong shell the won’t break when pressure is applied. If hinge shucking fails, you can either attempt to go in through the side of the oyster or break off a bit of the tip to create a gap to go through.

Although they can look and taste radically different, all the oysters grown on the East Coast are actually the same species,Crassostrea virginica. But the amazing thing about oysters is that, perhaps more than any other food, they are a perfect reflection of the area in which they were grown and the methods used to cultivate them, and two oysters of the same species grown 100 yards apart can bear absolutely no resemblance to one another. Old Plantation Inlet is a perfect place for growing oysters because the water is salty but not overwhelming so, clean, relatively shallow, the bottom is sandy rather than muddy, and it experiences very strong tidal flow that more resembles a river than an inlet. Our oysters are a reflection of this growing environment, which is why so many people have told us they are the best they’ve ever had.

Anytime! The old adage about only eating oysters in months that end in an R only applies to wild oysters that spawn during the summer months, causing them to be thin and milky, and not nearly as good as during the rest of the year. Like most oyster growers, our oysters are triploids, meaning they have three sets of chromosomes (like seedless watermelons), and don’t reproduce, so they put all their energy towards growth rather than spawning and as a consequence they remain plump and delicious all year round.

We use rebar racks to suspend our oysters between 6 and 12 inches off the bottom, and we arrange them so that they are exposed to air at an average low tide, which is called bearing out, which results in a healthier oyster and a stronger shell that’s less likely to break during shucking. Shell strength is especially important in our region, because the Chesapeake Bay is home to the boring sponge, an organism that bores small holes in the hinge region of oysters and weakens them. Periodic air exposure goes a long way towards limiting sponge growth, and it mimics the natural cycle the oysters have evolved with over millions of years.

Our oysters spend the first weeks of their life in a “hatchery”, growing in upwellers that cycle fresh Chesapeake Bay water around them until they are about the size of a small fingernail. We then pick them up from the hatchery in very fine mesh bags and bring them as quickly as we can to our oyster ground, minimizing the time they are out of the water because they are very sensitive at this stage and can die easily. To be safe, we buy from more than one hatchery every year so we have some diversity in our seed, because different seed reacts differently to various weather conditions and buying exclusively from one hatchery can result in a total loss.

Oysters are amazingly nutritious. They’re an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, and are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. The also contain a great deal of zinc and copper, in fact a plate of oysters contains the equivalent of 2 zinc lozenges! Last but not least, they are low in fat and contain all 9 essential amino acids, so dig in.

We are confident that our oysters will be among the best you’ve ever tasted, so our recommendation is to eat them raw and “naked”, or without any sauce or other condiment, which just overpowers the complex, rich flavor. If you must put something on them, however, a little lemon or mignonette sauce is a nice addition and doesn’t completely obscure the flavor of the oyster.

Oysters will keep quite a while if stored properly, meaning somewhere cool and dry. The best place is in a refrigerator where the temperature is constantly cold, but not freezing. In a fridge oysters can easily live for 2 weeks or more and be great when shucked, as the low temperatures slow down their metabolism and causes them to “hibernate” in a sense. The thing to remember about oysters is that you are eating a living thing, and as long as they are alive and haven’t been out in the heat, they are safe to eat. When an oyster dies it can no longer hold it’s shell closed, so if you see any oysters that have popped open, toss them, and the rest are good to go.

Yep, it really is. Oysters are filter feeders, so they clean the water around them as they filter out plankton and micro algae. We never feed them anything or add anything to the water, and each adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day. So our farm alone is responsible for the filtering of up to 5 million gallons of the Chesapeake Bay every day. When Europeans first arrived on the East Coast the oyster population was vastly larger than it is now, and it is estimated that all 19 trillion gallons of the Chesapeake Bay were filtered in 2 or 3 days, something that would take the current wild population almost a full year to accomplish.

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