Oak Point oysters (Crassostrea virginica) have a great story behind them. The Oak Points are spawned right on site at the farm’s hatchery, and are the product of hand-selected stock. That is just one of the many examples of the meticulous care that goes in to this particular aquaculture operation. Our friends in Harrington, Maine are incredibly thorough and passionate about all aspects of the hatchery and farm. The Oak Point aquaculture facility is located at the mouth of the Mill River, which empties into Flat Bay, and is has the distinction of being the northernmost oyster farm in the state of Maine. The river bottom is clay and mud, which is of little consequence, as the oysters never come in contact with it. The oysters are grown in containment their entire lives, starting in an Aquapurse on the surface until the oysters are roughly one inch across, at which time they are transferred to an Aquatray. The Oak Points remain suspended in the water column until they have reached the desired size (three to four inches), and are then harvested. Harvest consists of boats motoring out to the trays, hauling and emptying them by hand, and graded. This entire process takes three to four years, and several times a year the trays are pulled from the water, the oysters are removed by hand, and are then washed and thinned. During this process, a high volume pump is used to cleanse the shells, and they are shaken in the trays to chip away irregular growth, thereby encouraging greater cup definition. Let’s talk attention to detail and commitment to providing consistent quality product. You’ll not see an Oak Point that is greater than twice as long as it is wide. Any oysters that don’t meet these dimensional criteria are simply not shipped. Your chefs will appreciate this level of consistency. Shell strength is excellent, and they are hand cleaned of any biofouling prior to shipment. Oak Points are on the briny side, which I personally find to be a highly desirable quality in an oyster. Salinity level of the Oak Points is right around 32-34 ppt (parts per thousand). To put things in perspective, pure seawater has an average salinity level of 35-36 ppt. A few other notes of interest…This region is home to some of the biggest tidal fluctuations in the State of Maine. That means that there is a terrific amount of seawater flushing through Flat Bay and the mouth of Mill River twice a day. Another testament to the purity of these waters is that this region has never been subject to closure due to Red Tide. As far as seasonality, expect availability on these pretty much year around, with the exceptions of January and February when a couple feet of ice makes harvest impossible.
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