Oysters are loved by some and despised by others; there is no middle ground in this case. Oysters, often known as ‘ocean mollusks,’ are mollusks that live in brackish or marine environments and are one of the most widely farmed shellfish. They belong to the Ostreidae family and may be found in shallow waters in a variety of seas all over the world. The Pacific Oyster comes from Asia’s Pacific Coast, for example.
Surprisingly, oysters are not only one of the world’s most popular gourmet delicacies, but they are also extremely excellent for the environment. How is that possible? This is due to the fact that each oyster filters over 50 gallons of water every day. You can only imagine how much water an oyster bed cleans on a daily basis!
Between 1880 and 1910, the United States began producing over 160 million pounds of oysters per year, much exceeding the total amount of oysters produced by all other countries. Oyster production and consumption soared to such heights during those years that New Yorkers were forced to pay their ‘Pearl Street’ in hard oyster shells, which were then utilized in the foundations of countless skyscrapers.
There are different varieties of oysters. I’ve discussed some of the most popular ones below:
1. Pacific Oysters
Individual names for this oyster species include Miyagi Oyster and Japanese Oyster. Pacific oysters are said to be the most cosmopolitan of all oyster species because they were first brought to a range of nations for aquaculture reasons, following which they took over the world’s shellfish aquaculture output.
These oysters are widely produced throughout the Pacific Coast of the United States, but they are not native to the area. They are originally from Asia’s Pacific Coast. They’re gaining a lot of traction on the West Coast and in Europe, and they’ve just made their way to North America, Europe, New Zealand, and Australia.
Pacific oysters can be found in sub-tidal zones in thick mats on rocks and on soft soils. Their attractive grey-blue shell with strongly fluted edges makes them easy to recognize. The interior of the shell, on the other hand, is entirely white, with a deep purple muscle scar.
These oysters are recognized for growing extremely quickly, reaching a maximum size of 10-15 cm in just 2-4 years. Different kinds of this oyster species have a broad range of tastes and fragrances, although they are typically sweeter and less salty than Atlantic Oysters. Their flavor is described as a combination of creamy, salty, melon-like, and vegetal.
2. Kumamoto Oysters
The Kumamoto oysters were formerly thought to be a sub-species of Pacific oysters. They were called after their site of origin, which is in Japan, and then spread all the way to southern China, Taiwan, and Korea. Native to Japan, these oysters are now widely produced in the Pacific Northwest and on the West Coast of the United States.
The uneven form and unequal valves of Kumamoto oysters are comparable to those of other oyster types. They are also quite modest in size, reaching a maximum of about 60mm in length. They have creamy meats, a little saline flavor, and a honeydew-like finish and come in round and tiny green-colored tumbling shells.
Kumamoto oysters do not appear to flourish in the chilly waters of the Pacific Northwest, perhaps because they are used to the warm seas of their home Japan.
3. Belon Oysters
Belon oysters, also known as “European Flat oysters,” are thought to have originated in Europe, with authentic “belongs” believed to have originated in the Belon River estuary in Brittany. The origins of these oysters appear to have a fascinating narrative to tell.
Apparently, in the 1950s, some scientists transferred a Belon oyster seed from the Netherlands to Maine. This was done in order to grow this species in North America. However, they gave up and discontinued their short-lived attempts because they didn’t notice any significant outcomes. However, after ten years, these oysters began to thrive in a variety of riverbanks around the Maine coast. Belon Oysters were first discovered around the Maine coast’s rivers, including the Damariscotta River, in the 1980s, when their population exploded.
The Belons, also known as European Flat oysters, have very flat shells, spherical forms, and less distinct cups than most of its relative oysters. The majority of people have termed them “plates” because they resemble little saucers. Their flesh is light brown and creamy, with a distinct metallic flavor that is followed by a ‘coppery’ finish. They are less salty and have sweet overtones than the eastern oyster.
The color of these oysters turns to ivory after they’ve been cooked. Furthermore, because of their flat surface, they must be kept and packed cup-down in order to maintain their liquid.
4. Olympia Oysters
Olympias, which are around the size of a quarter, give the Kumamotos the appearance of giants. They are the only oyster that is endemic to the United States’ West Coast. Their popularity during the Gold Rush in San Francisco nearly wiped them out, and they were thought to be extinct for decades. There are still wild populations that must be conserved. Olympias are grown mostly in the Puget Sound and British Columbia, where they may be found in the market and in restaurants.
Olympias have a sweet, coppery, metallic flavor. Olympia oysters have a remarkable oval form that is sometimes virtually spherical, which is one of its identifying characteristics. This is in contrast to huge Pacific oysters that are pear or tear-shaped. This oyster has a shallow shell, similar to European Belons. The shell is black or light purple in hue, with a grey look on occasion.
Olympia oysters are a favorite among oyster enthusiasts. Oyster meat ranges in hue from pale olive green to pearly white and has a creamy texture. The oyster flesh has a strong salty flavor with coppery metallic undertones, despite its small size. In fact, they’re frequently referred to as “baby Belons” since their flavor is so similar to that of European oysters.
5. Sydney Rock Oysters
These oysters are also called “New Zealand Oysters” and “Auckland Oysters,” indicating that they are native to both New Zealand and Australia. Some of their preferred habitats are sheltered bays and estuaries, spanning from Wingan Inlet in Victoria to Harvey Bay in Queensland.
Sydney Rock Oysters may live up to ten years and reach a weight of 60 kg after three years. “Rock Oyster” and “Western Rock Oyster” are some of its other common names.
They are often smaller than other oyster kinds, with a shell length of 6-8 cm on average. They are characterized mostly by their shell, which is rather attractive and has a flinty, less salty flavor. These oysters are accessible all year, although their best season is from September to March.
The oysters’ shells are strong and smooth, with small teeth along the inside rim of the shell. These oysters have a very pale-colored muscle scar, unlike most other oyster species. In terms of their deep cups and mild-sweet flavor, they are similar to Kumamoto oysters. They’re finest eaten just after they’ve been shucked, but they may last up to 14 days if kept at the right temperature and treated carefully.
6. Eastern Oysters
Humans and other creatures value the Eastern oyster as a food source. They provide habitat for fish, crabs, and other creatures, as well as helping to filter the water as filter feeders. They were plentiful centuries ago. Reefs were so large in certain locations that ships had to maneuver around them. Since then, the population of many communities has shrunk to only a few percent of what it once was. Overharvesting, disease, habitat loss, and poor water quality are also contributing factors.
Virginia oyster and Wellfleet oyster are two additional names for this species. Eastern oysters were formerly quite popular commercially, and they still appear to retain that reputation. Surprisingly, this oyster is Connecticut’s’state shellfish,’ while the shell of this oyster is regarded the’state shell’ of Mississippi and Virginia.
The Eastern oyster, like all other oysters, has a hard calcium-carbonaceous shell that provides protection from predators. They are often extremely huge in size and have a taste that is somewhat salty and metallic. They have a savoryflavor and a crisp texture, which has helped them achieve popularity in the culinary world.
7. Blue Point Oysters
These oysters are widely found on the East Coast in the municipality of Blue Point on Long Island. They come from a variety of places, including the Connecticut and New York oyster areas, so the flavor is all over the place, and the brininess varies greatly.
Blue Point oysters were notably well-known in the 1800s for their wild and powerful flavor, and Queen Victoria was a fan of them.
They’re medium in size and have a moderate, meaty, salty flavor. They have a crisp, firm, and fresh texture with a salty-sweet aftertaste.