J.P.’s Shellfish sources Watch Hill oysters (Crassostrea virginica) from Winnapaug Pond, which is located in Westerly, Rhode Island. Winnapaug Pond provides an optimal environment for the grow-out of oysters. Protected from the swells of the open North Atlantic Ocean by a natural barrier beach, Winnapaug Pond receives a constant flow of nutrient rich waters courtesy of the tidal washes which fill and empty the pond twice daily.
As the Watch Hill oyster lease lies a mere 100 yards from the open ocean, the salinity inherent to the Atlantic is absorbed by the oysters, and lends them that classic, highly sought after, flavor associated with premium New England oysters. Salinity levels of the Watch Hill oysters ranges from 29-34 parts per thousand, which is the same level possessed by seawater.
The Watch Hill oysters are farm raised in custom designed trays which are moored to the bed of Winnapaug Pond. As these trays are elevated off of the hard packed sand which constitutes the floor of the lease, they are kept virtually free of the sand and grit. As the Watch Hill oysters grow out, they are periodically removed from their trays and manicured (chipped) to encourage greater cup depth and definition. Essentially, this manicuring involves chipping off the thin, new shell growth around the edges of oyster, so the cup grows deeper, but less broad.
It warrants mentioning that every aspect of the harvesting, manicuring, grading, and cleansing of the Watch Hill oysters are performed by sets of highly qualified hands, never by the blind and undiscerning eye of automated machinery. Our Watch Hill oysters are very much harvested on a per-order basis. In fact, our Watch Hills go from Bed to J.P.’s Shellfish truck in less than two hours. This harvest occurs twice a week, and assures that you receive only the freshest, highest quality product available. Our Watch Hill oysters are packed in 100 count units, and all oysters are in the three to three and a half inch range, and are available more or less year round.