Products

Oysters

Crassostrea gigas (Pacific or Japanese oyster), Crassostrea virginica (Eastern or Atlantic oyster), Crassostrea sikamea (Kumamoto oyster),Ostrea lurida (Olympia oyster), Ostrea edulis (European flat oyster or Belon)

Market Name(s): In shell oysters marketed under various regional names (Blue Points, Hama Hamas, Wellfleets, Snow Creeks, Fanny Bays, Icy Bays, Hog Island, Pearl Bay etc.) or by species name (Olympias, Flats, Kumamotos etc.)

Contact Purchasing
Oysters
  • Primary Source: Washington, Oregon, California, British Columbia, Louisiana.
  • Season: Year-round, but meat yields and shelf life decline during spawning (summer).
  • Primary Fishing Method: Farmed, both suspended and on-bottom culture.

Size Range:

In shell:

Pacific oysters:
Avg. Size: 2 1/2 - 7 inches

Eastern oysters:
Avg. Size: 3 - 5 inches

Kumamotos:
Avg. Size: 2 1/2 -3 inches

Olympia oyster:
Avg. Size: 1/2 - 1 inch

European flat oyster:
Avg. Size: 3 - 4 inches

Meats: 2/10 of an ounce to 2 ounces

Product forms:

FRESH, LIVE, SHUCKED MEATS: Graded: Petite (250-400/gal.), Extra Small (145-250/gal.), Small (96-144/gal.), Medium (64-95/gal.), Large (64 and under).

FROZEN: IQF meats and on the half shell. SMOKED meats. BREADED.

Storage & Handling

ive oysters should be held at 34-38°F in a moist environment, stored cupside down. Don't use ice, as fresh water will shorten shelf life. Under ideal conditions, oysters will stay alive for 10-14 days, although shelf life is shorter in summer after animals have spawned. Do not store in plastic bags, or other air-tight containers. Thaw frozen oysters under refrigeration.

Cooking Suggestions

The wide variety of oysters available today make this a popular seafood. Oysters can be eaten as an appetizer or an entrée, depending on how you serve them. They are well-suited for poaching, baking, steaming, sautéing, deep-frying or even Raw. They can also be included in pastas or chowders.

Selling Points

  • Wide appeal to true seafood lovers who appreciate variety.
  • Opportunity to show you know seafood by promoting different oyster varieties.
  • Versatile—oysters can be used in chowders, sandwiches, appetizers and entrees.
  • Very healthy seafood that is easily marketed.

Defects

  • Excess water (water should not exceed 15% of gross weight).
  • Off odor indicates old product.
  • Inaccurate grading and counts.
  • Past expiration date.

The Pacific Advantage

  • Company-owned plant in Bay City, Oregon sources oysters from Oregon and Washington, giving critical control of packaging, processing and quality.
  • Strict control of harvest areas and attention to shellfish tags assures the finest in shell oysters.
  • Highly developed inter company transportation system along entire West Coast allows product to be moved quickly from harvest sites through distribution, extending product shelf life.
  • Strict quality control and receiving policies are combined with dedicated shellfish handling areas, assuring optimal conditions from harvest to end user.
  • Extensive, high-volume distribution network assures fast turnover and consistent supply.
  • Advanced H.A.C.C.P. program and tight product specs far exceed government and industry standards and ensures customers of totally safe product.
  • Year round availability of fresh and live Pacific oysters.

Summary

Few seafoods have as much history or lore as oysters. The Romans first cultivated oysters over 2,000 years ago, and they have a rich tradition as an aphrodisiac (King Henry IV was said to eat 400 oysters before dinner). Today, this ubiquitous bivalve is more popular than ever, as a revival of restaurant oysters bars has given Americans more opportunity to slurp these plump, savory morsels.

In The U.S., more than 130,000 tons of live oysters are harvested each year. More than 75% of that production is the Eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica. Louisiana is the leading oyster-producing state, producing almost half of the entire U.S. harvest.

On the West Coast, oyster farmers grow about 35,000 tons of Pacific oysters a year, with more than 75% of that production coming from Washington state. British Columbia is the next most important producer, followed by California and Oregon. Pacifics can grow up to seven inches in shell length over a period of four to five years.

The Pacific oyster, Crassostrea gigas, a native of the Far East, is the most widely farmed oyster in the world, accounting for about 75% of the total world oyster production. An extremely hardy and adaptable animal, Pacifics are widely grown in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and on the West Coast of the U.S., where it was introduced in the early 1900s.

The little Olympia oyster,Ostrea lurida, is the only oyster native to the West Coast. Although it was once harvested in large quantities, only a few thousand pounds of "Olys" are harvested now. Olympias take three years to grow to the size of a quarter.

Pacific oysters will turn 80% of their body weight into sperm and eggs (compared to 40% in an Eastern oyster) when they spawn in the late spring and summer, hence the old adage: Don't eat oysters in the months without an "r." As the meats from spawning oysters will be milky and soft, farmers will not harvest oysters from beds where they are spawning.

Some oyster farmers on the West Coast produce "triploid" oysters, which are sterile and do not spawn. Triploids are producing by shocking oyster eggs with a chemical to produce three sets of chromosomes (a normal oyster has two). Triploids are normally harvested in the summer, when most other oysters are spawning.

The kumamoto, Crassostrea sikamea, is a separate species of oyster that has been introduced to the West Coast from Japan. "Kumos," which are about 2 to 3 inches in shell length, have a very deep cup and a large meat for their size.

European flat oysters, Ostrea edulis, are also often called "Belons," which is the name of a region in France where they are grown. Although flats once dominated European oyster production, disease has sharply reduced their harvests. Today, the hardier Pacific accounts for more than 75% of Europe's oyster production.

U.S. oyster growers farm European flat oysters in small quantities on both coasts. Flats, which are prized for their unique salty flavor, sell for a substantial premium.

Even though it's the same species, the flavor of an oyster will vary considerably, depending upon where it's grown. Oysters are filter feeders, siphoning up to 25 gallons of water a day through their system. The flavor of their meat is a function of the trace minerals (especially salt) in the water.

Because their flavor varies, oysters are usually marketed by where they're grown, so there are scores of market names for the same species. Popular Eastern oysters include Blue Points (after a town on Long Island, N.Y.), Malpeques (after a bay on Prince Edward Island) and Chincoteagues (an island in Virginia). Popular Pacific oysters include Hama Hamas (after a river on Washington's Olympic Peninsula), Shoalwaters (after a bay on the Washington coast), Fanny Bays (on the east coast of Vancouver Island), Yaquina Bays (a bay in Oregon) and so on.

Vibrio vulnificus is a naturally occurring bacteria found in the coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico, primarily from April to October, when water temperatures are warmest. Although incidences are rare, people from certain high-risk groups can develop potentially fatal infections after eating raw shellfish that have this bacteria. People in the high-risk category include people with compromised immune systems who suffer from liver disease, chronic alcohol abuse, cancer, kidney disease, diabetes or AIDS. Vibrio can be destroyed by cooking the oyster. Some states, such as California, require restaurants that serve raw Gulf oysters to post a warning.