Our Connecticut Blue Point oysters (Crassostrea virginica) have to many become synonymous with the very words Atlantic oysters. There is a certain undeniable association with the Blue Point that has made it (by relative oyster standards) a household name. The Blue Point is that familiar face you pick out of a crowd, and will be a welcome addition to any oyster list.
Our Connecticut Blue Point oysters are a product of the Northwestern Long Island Sound. More specifically, harvesting occurs in the waters surrounding Copps Island (N 41.059/W 73.388), Tuxis Island (N 41.226/W 72.602), and Cedar Point (N 41.146/W 73.355). These Blue Points are the result of a unique blend of aquaculture and natural development.
Each July, the Long Island Sound Blue Points go through their annual spawn. State aquaculture authorities constantly monitor the waters, and let our oystermen know when the spawn is anticipated. Just prior to the onset of the spawning cycle, oyster beds that have historically proven to be highly productive are groomed. That is to say, any undesirable elements (i.e. debris and predators such as drills and or starfish) are removed from the beds, and a layer of cleansed oyster shells are spread over the freshly manicured ocean floor. As you may recall from previous Newsletters, the free-swimming oyster larvae have a predisposition to taking up residence among other oysters…Or at least their shells. For the next ten months or so, the oysters are very much left to their own devices. When the Blue Points have attained the size of a dime (or thereabout), the oysters are transferred from the nursery beds to either the warmer, phytoplankton rich shallows of coastal Connecticut (thereby accelerating the Blue Point’s rate of growth), or to the cold, deep recesses of the Sound (termed “storage beds”) where the oysters continue their grow out, but do so at a much slower rate.
Oysters may be rotated back and forth between the shallows and the depths many times over the three of four years it takes for the Blue Points to reach market size. Why? I’m glad you asked. By employing such methods, our Blue Point fishery is able to supply us with oysters that are remarkably consistent in size, shape, cup definition, cleanliness, flavor and texture.
Size wise, our Connecticut Blue Points are roughly three and a half to four inches in diameter, with a relatively round shell, and pronounced cup. Additionally, as there is no chipping of the shells required to improve definition, the valves seal together quite tightly, thereby promoting the retention of liquor (and minimizing mortality). Shells are thick and resistant to chipping and or splintering during the shucking process. The meats of our Connecticut Blue Points are full, and possess a mild to medium level of salinity.
Now then…Here comes the kicker…Winter availability on our Connecticut Blue Points is more or less unparalleled in North Atlantic oyster industry. Looking for an oyster to print on your list of offerings? Are people after you for just one oyster they can count on week in and week out? This might just be the one…There have been no lapses in harvest this season, even as other fisheries have experienced closures. Think about it…Name recognition, incredible consistency (both qualitatively and quantitatively), all from trusted family fishery that has been responsibly harvesting oysters from the same waters for six generations. Looks pretty good from where I’m standing.