We’re adding a couple of new oyster options to our list – both from Maine! No one says it better than the farmers themselves, enjoy these (lightly edited for space) descriptions:
Basket Island Oysters, Broad Cove, ME
These oysters are bottom seeded, which means they are scattered by hand, free onto the muddy bottom. This way of growing oysters is as close to “wild” as one can get. We do nothing to them for 2-3 years.
When we see that they are big enough to harvest, we wait for the full moon drainer tides where the water drains out of the bay exposing the mudflat. Then the oysters are harvested by hand in the same method as clamming (in the short 2-hour window allowed before the water level climbs above the edge of our boots). We are careful not to step in lobster dens and we try not to be startled by the horseshoe crabs that amble like bumper cars between our feet. It is quite romantic to be so tied to the ocean tides, and winds, and sunrises.
Our oysters are beautifully distinct because of their green tinted shells – indicative of the algae that grows on the hard substrate, photosynthesizing in the sunlight. The algae stains the oyster that green color permanently. The bay is nutrient rich, and as such, the oysters are delicious and fatty.
We consider them to be an oyster-lover's oyster because they gain a rich umami flavor from the vibrant muddy-bottomed ecosystem that they are grown in.
Typical of oysters grown in the cold waters of Casco Bay, Basket Islands start off with a nice brininess. Next, they exude the sweet character of ripe honeydew melon. The sweet is balanced by earthy and musky undertones and notes of mild mushroom and slate that finish off the taste and add wonderful complexity to these silky oysters.
Wolfe Neck Oysters, Casco Bay, ME
Wolfe Neck Oyster Co. is an employee owned oyster farm. Our oysters are all grown in cages on the ocean floor, in the cold, salty water of the rugged Maine coast. It takes significantly longer to grow an oyster under these conditions, but produces a more robust oyster with a unique, delicious flavor. Wolfe Neck Oysters take a minimum of three years to grow - many take even longer than that.
Wolfe Necks are grown in a cove situated between Cousins Island and Little John Island, in the middle of Little John Island preserve and Katherine Tinker preserves. In fact, the name ‘Wolfe Neck Oysters’ is derived from a State Park located nearby.
The juvenile Maine lobster, baby sculpins, and rock eels abound. In the spring we frequently see bald eagles building their nests on the islands adjacent to our farm. In the fall we see monarch butterflies migrating across the cove. The bay is pristine. Over the years we’ve even noticed an abundance of the endangered sea grass 'eelgrass' making a resurgence in the cove.
Wolfe Neck oysters start with a brininess distinctive to the Casco Bay region. Additionally, because the oysters generally rest beneath the thermocline (where dense cold saline water sinks below the less salty water on the surface) they develop an extra bright and juicy kick of salt that you first experience in the back of your mouth.
What we love about these oysters is that the brightness opens the palette and makes room for the most wonderful grassy and vegetal notes to follow.
Wolfe Necks have been described as tasting like anjou pear, snap pea, cucumber, grassy, green, fresh and bright. The finish is that of salted butter. This should bring you full circle. The butter blends notes of crisp vegetables balanced with a dollop of sweet fat.