So far 2020 has been difficult for oyster growers but there are plenty of good reasons why that should change…
1. Because arguably they are at their best right now
You’ve heard the old adage “only eat oysters when there is an R in the month”? This came from a time when what was available on the market was native oysters and the fishing season closed for the summer to allow the oysters a chance to reproduce. Nowadays most commercial growers are growing Pacific oysters and April and May are a particularly good time to enjoy them!
2. Because the water is warm
Right now the oysters are actively growing, waters are warming up and there is plenty of algae for them to eat. What’s more, the global shutdown means that the waters they are growing in are cleaning than ever.
3. Because N ° 2 is perfect
In late Spring / early Summer the adult oysters are getting to the perfect size for our plates. They’ve fleshed up to around a tasty 100g, a No 2 in the oyster grading system, that’s the perfect size for those who enjoy their oyster on the halfshell.
4. Because bigger is…..better?
With the markets closed the growers are working hard to slow down the amount the oysters grow. This summer we may see bigger than usual oysters for sale which will allow us to get inventive with our cooking. Larger oysters might not suit those who like to down them in one but they are marvellous grilled, baked, fried or on a summer barbeque.
5. Because they are good for you
Oysters offer a wealth of health benefits, thanks to their huge stockpiles of essential vitamins and minerals. They’re an excellent source of protein, vitamin D, zinc, iron and copper, and also have high levels of Vitamin C, phosphorus, niacin and riboflavin. That Vitamin C is the important one as it plays such an important role in boosting our immune systems and that feels like a good thing right now.
6. Because we need to support our oyster farmers
According to BIM in 2018 Irish oyster growers produced an all-time high of 10,300 tonnes of oysters and directly employed 1,300 people nationwide. While aquaculture is on the list of essential services and growers are allowed to continue to work, with restaurants closed the reality is that there is very little market for their oysters leaving them facing a crisis. The livelihood of all those people depends on their ability to get their oysters sold.
7. Because we believe in buying local
Now more than ever is the time to buy local. No air miles. Buy local and keep the money in your community, what’s more you can’t get fresher than buying directly from the grower or from your local fishmonger. Fresh, local, delicious!