Oyster farming: years of care
Temperate saline waters provide an ideal environment for natural breeding – thus, the shallow bays and estuaries of the southwestern Gulf of St. Lawrence, interspersed along the coasts of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island in Canada, combine all the optimal conditions for shellfish growth.
The methods of grow-out and harvest associated with the farming of the Seafoodia oysters are ecologically sound and environmentally sustainable. During the winter months, the oysters are harvested by hand under the ice.
After harvest, our oysters are carefully hand-packed in high quality packagings (cup-side-down) and immediately shipped on a refrigerated truck directly to our customers.
Growth in three steps
Before an oyster reaches fine dining rooms, it will require between 3 and 7 years of attentive care provided by expert oyster farmers:
The captage (“capture”), a technique used for over 70 years, consists of capturing the larvae and spats, with timber piles, tubes, or strips, to which the embryos will cling over a few months.
When the spats are ready to start the growing phase, oyster farmers will lay them on sandy lands or suspend them in growing systems: rafts or floating bags, cages, trays, or bags placed on tables. Why favor suspension farming? This technique allows better water circulation, thus maximizing the natural supply of food essential to the vigorous growth of shellfish. From then on, it will take 3 to 5 years, sometimes one or two years more, for oysters to reach their maturity. The result: generous, fleshy, flavorful, and nutrient rich oysters.
Upon reaching maturity, some oysters are subjected to a refining period in softer and plankton-rich watersheds. This step is of utmost importance as this is the moment where the oysters develop all their unique flavors and colors.
Oysters are sold and categorized according to their size:
- Jewel oysters – ranging from 51 to 63 mm (from 2 to 2.5 inches)
- Cocktail oysters – ranging from 64 to 76 mm (from 2.5 to 3 inches)
- Fancy choice oysters – ranging from 77 to 90 mm (from 3 to 3.5 inches)
- French oysters are ranked from 0 to 5, grade 0 being the largest size.