Market Name: Oyster
Scientific Name: Crassostrea virginica
Common Name: Atlantic or Eastern oyster, cove oyster, American oyster
Flavor: Mild/Moderate
Texture: Delicate/Medium

Unlike most of the world, where the Pacific oyster has taken over the oyster grounds, America still has its native oyster, the same one that fed the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock. Today, two-thirds of the national oyster harvest is Eastern oysters. While Pacific oysters are mostly cultivated, Eastern oysters are harvested mainly from wild beds in the Gulf of Mexico. They’re also farmed in Long Island Sound and parts of Atlantic Canada. Because of the different condi tions associated with each grow-out region — nutrients in the water, salinity levels, temperature, etc. — oysters vary in taste from one area to the next and often bear the name of the region where they were grown as a means of distinguishing their individual flavor attri butes. The renowned Blue Point, for example, hails from Long Island Sound. There are also the Chincoteagues, Apalachicolas and Cape Cods, each with its own character. Oysters are harvested from brackish, shallow water with dredges or tongs. Market size is usually 3 to 4 inches.

Product Profile:
The Eastern oyster is known for its distinctive, salty flavor and meaty texture. Oyster meats, which are somewhat fatty, should be smooth with adequate liquor (store cup-side down to retain the liquor). Eastern oysters have a moderately deep, elongated, gray-white to gray-brown, rough, spoon-shaped shell with rose-colored streaks. Inside is a light-colored fringe (the gill) and creamy to light-brown meat. Cooked meat turns ivory. To test for live oysters, tap the shell; it should close. A sulfur odor indicates a dead oyster. The liquid in which fresh, shucked oysters are packed should be clear.

You Should Know:
Never buy oysters that do not bear the harvester’s name, address, date and certification number, and keep the tag for at least 90 days. This should be done routinely.

Cooking Tips:
Oysters are tender creatures. They should never be heated too quickly or too long. As soon as the mantle starts to curl, they’re done. For a classic presentation, try Oysters Rockefeller — broiled in their shells on pans of salt, topped with bacon, breadcrumbs, butter and scallions. Though oysters are often served on the halfshell, people in high-risk categories should avoid raw shellfish.

Cooking Methods: Bake,Fry,Grill,Saute',Smoke,Steam

Substitutions: Pacific oysters, European oysters

Primary Product Forms:
Fresh: Halfshell, Shucked meats
Frozen: Whole Halfshell Shucked meats
Value-Added: Smoked Canned Breaded Fritters

Global Supply: