The wild seed stock which is to become the Cooke’s Cocktail oysters is gathered from selected regions of Malpeque Bay, and is then transferred to custom made ADPI bags which are lashed together by a common back-line and positively buoyed so the bags and the oysters contained within are held at or near the very top of the water column. Being this close to the water’s surface encourages the oysters to grow thicker shells (as protection from the sun’s rays), and a constant flow of nutrients is delivered to the oysters due to the natural upwelling action of the bay. Oysters grow-out in top-water suspension cultures are typically cleaner (less mud, bio-fouling, etc.) than your bottom-cultured varieties, and the top-water oysters are also kept up and away from bottom-dwelling predators (such as sea stars-aka starfish), thereby reducing mortality.
The Cooke’s Cocktails are grown out on non-commercial leases which are strictly controlled through Canada’s DFO (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/index-eng.htm). The DFO is meticulous in terms of monitoring permits and policies which exist for and between non-commercial fisheries and registered processing plants. All this legislation and attention to detail has been put into place to assure the long-term sustainability of both the natural resources and fisheries that rely upon them.
Occasionally, the bags of Cooke’s Cocktails are hauled from the pristine waters of Malpeque Bay, and are run across a “shaker table”. Essentially, as the oysters are…Well…Shaken…New growth is chipped away, and while the overall diameter/circumference of the oyster kept to a minimum through this process, the oyster’s cup becomes more pronounced and defined. This process will be repeated every couple-few months during the ice-free months of the grow-out period (generally two to three years).
Cooke’s Cocktails possess a medium-high to high salinity (30-33 ppt), and are packed out in 100-count wooden crates. Meats are pleasantly firm and full, as often as not taking up the entire cup. Shells of the Cooke’s Cocktails are dense, chip resistant, and should be a pleasure to shuck for novices and veterans alike. Pre-orders are not required on the Cooke’s Cocktails.