Gooseberry Bay oysters (Crassostrea virginica) are farm-raised in Prince Edward Island’s Malpeque Bay…More specifically, in the estuary formed by the Conway Narrows and the Foxley River (N 46.75/W 64.07). Perhaps you are familiar with our Conway Cups and Blackberry Points? The Gooseberry Bays are grown out and harvested by the very same fishery as the Conway Cups and the Blackberry Points! I can hear you now…”That’s great James…But isn’t this a bit redundant?” Au contraire, mon frere! While the Conway Cups and Blackberry Points are classified as wild oysters and are grown out in a bottom culture…The Gooseberry Bays are farmed and spend their entire grow out (four to five years) in ADPI bags. For the majority of their grow out, the Gooseberry Bays are suspended at the top of the water column as the bags are positively buoyed. This method of grow out exposes the oysters to the suns rays (resulting in a thickening of the valves), holds them squarely in the nutrient rich tidal wash, and keeps the oysters out of the reach of predators.
Three times a summer, the Gooseberry Points and the ADPI bags are removed from the water. The Gooseberry Bays are emptied from the bags, run over a shaker, and then sent through a tumbler. The shaking and tumbling actions chip away any irregular growth from the oysters, thereby keeping them consistent in size and shape, while facilitating greater cup definition. As an aside…While the Gooseberry Bays are going through this process, the ADPI bags are being cleaned and undergo any required routine maintenance. In the winter months, when a thick sheet of ice covers the lease, the bags are sunk to the floor of the estuary, and the Gooseberry Bays are suspended just above the hard-packed clay and sand. Mind you…At no time do the Gooseberry Bays come in contact with the seabed. After the spring break up, the ballast tanks are once again filled with air, and the bags and oysters are floated. When the Gooseberry Bays reach market size (roughly three and a quarter inches in length), the bags are once again sunk for three weeks so the oysters can “brine up”. This process brings that oh-so-familiar and desirable level of Malpeque Bay salinity to the Gooseberry Bays. The valves of the Gooseberry Bays are a mottled black and white hound’s tooth, and are unmistakablychoice. Meats are pleasantly firm, and are suspended in an abundance of rich liquor. Gooseberry Bays are hand-packed (cup-side-down) in 100 count units, and are brought down from Prince Edward Island on a daily basis. I would strongly encourage pre-orders on the Gooseberry Bays until we can get a grasp on our anticipated usage rates and pars. We fully expect to have the Gooseberry Bays at least through the end of the calendar year, so offer these delicious gems with confidence.