Extreme Farming in Alaska
What do they Taste Like?
One of the uncelebrated qualities of oysters is how their flavor changes with the seasons, the weather, their age, their reproductive cycles, and even their very placement within a small bay. A single Jakolof oyster can provide a kaleidoscope of flavors; there’s the salty taste of the liquor when it first hits the tongue, gliding into a sweet burst as the silky fatty lipids are released, then a smooth sea tang lingers. If you’ve added lemon, shallot mignonette, or tabasco, that extra kick will give you a thirst for a sip of Muscadet or a Homer Brew. A bite of buttered french bead will clear the palate for another round.
Can you really Ship Live Oysters?
Our goal is to remove as many steps from farm to table as possible; so the shellfish you receive are the freshest possible. Shellfish is shipped direct to you from Homer Alaska. We ship Federal Express Priority Overnight in the US (sorry due to state regulations no shipments to Louisiana, Texas and Hawaii at this time). To avoid shipping delays, a signature is not required for receiving packages. By placing an order for shellfish you agree to take responsibility for the package once FedEx marks it delivered. Shipping includes reusable styrofoam container and gel packs.
Where do you Catch them?
All oysters in Alaska are farmed Crassostrea Gigas aka Pacific Oysters. Pacifics are not indigenous to Alaska, and there’s no chance of them establishing non-native wild populations – they don’t reproduce in these frigid waters. Spat (baby oyster seed) are purchased from hatcheries in southeast Alaska, Washington and Hawaii, and outplanted in a variety of gear types. Our farm is in Jakolof Bay
How long does it take to grow them?
It can take 3-5 years to grow a market ready oyster here, depending on a wide variety of factors. Creating and maintaining an optimum habitat for them is an ongoing year round endeavor. We grow oysters for the half shell market, and they must be sorted and moved multiple times each year to sculpt their shape and defoul their environment. These hardiest of oysters grow to thrive in the long summer daylight and the cool pristine waters. Twenty-foot tides churn the warm pacific currents with the icy mineral rich runoff from the glacier fields of the Kenai Range, these conditions are perfect for growing a wide variety of phytoplankton creating the richest, healthiest diet an oyster could find anywhere on the planet. By the time they are ready for harvest, our oysters are delicious, plump, firm, and sweet with a pristine liquor.
Are Oysters a Sustainable Seafood?
Our mariculture process is a zero input farming activity. We add:
- NO water
- NO food
- NO fertilizer
In turn our shellfish and seaweed provide ecosystem services in four broad categories:
- Supporting: Primary production, nutrient cycling, habitat for other creatures.
- Provisioning: Food for people, shells and kelp for soil ammendments
- Regulating: carbon sequestration, water purification
- Cultural: recreation, tourism, and local jobs, and economic diversification of our local fishing community.
ARe Shellfish Safe to eat?
IMPORTANT CONSUMER INFORMATION MESSAGE FROM THE interstate shellfish sanitation conference (ISSC):
"As in the case with consuming other raw animal protein products, there is a risk associated with consuming raw oysters, clams, and mussels. If you suffer from chronic illness of the liver, stomach, or blood, or have immune disorders, do not eat these products raw."Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference (ISSC) Oyster Information Page.
Safe shellfish is a primary concern of ours, our oysters are:
Harvested from Alaska Department of Environmental Health (ADEC) certified clean waters
Regularly tested and our facilities and records are regularly inspected by the ADEC and the FDA for compliance with state and federal regulations and protocols.
- Documented by tags indicating harvest location and date
- Processed by us with a HACCP Plan in place (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point), with special attention to temperature control requirements
- Taste tested frequently by us (there have to be some perks to a farmer's life).
WHO REGULATES ALASKA OYSTER FARMING?
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game issues our operating permit and they help assure that any spat we bring into the state come from certified facilities free from any diseases that could plague our oysters, or any other marine life in the bay.
The Alaska Department of Natural Resources manages our on-water lease, helps assure that we are making the most of this public resource, and helps us work amicably with our neighbors to resolve any conflicts that could arise from competing interests in the bay.
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) provides us with a framework and testing protocol to achieve the safest possible seafood product. The ADEC also conducts water monitoring of the entire bay, and weekly testing of our oysters in the summer (monthly in winter). We are then required to tag all shipments with our certification number and harvest details – anyone selling our oysters, must keep that tag on record for 90 days – if in doubt about whether or not your being served Jakolof Bay Oysters, ask to see our tag! We are confident that discerning consumers will appreciate the extra time, effort and care which has gone into growing our superior oysters and keeping them safe for consumption.
How Do I Prepare them?
At the farm we prefer them naked. At our Shuck Shackteau we add a little lemon and our own take on the classic mignonette (just Shallots, vinegar and pepper, but we mix on part white balsamic vinegar to regular vinegar to sweeten it up a bit). We'll be adding links to our favorite recipes here.
Are They Really an Aphrodesiac?