"Tastiness from the mouth
of the Rappahannock!"
We are fortunate to have a NOAA Scientific Buoy located just a football field or two away from our leases. We are able to keep track of water conditions and correlate that information with our oyster's meroir at the time of harvest.
The concept of meroir recognizes the existence of specific and unique properties of a certain area of the sea which contribute in giving the oyster that grows there its special flavor.
At every harvest we record the specific water conditions that we believe contribute to the taste of our oyster. We detail those certain conditions in a pamphlet that we provide with each shipment. Some customers have asked what these numbers actually mean and how it affects their oyster's meroir.
Let's start with probably the most significant water conditions that affects taste:
Oysters require saltwater, Oysters can not live in fresh water, so the salinity of an oyster depends on where it was raised. Oysters can live in salinities between 8 and 35 parts per thousand with optimal salinity for growth and reproduction between 10 to 28 ppt. Oysters raised near the ocean usually have salinities around 33 parts per thousand. If you prefer a salty oyster, above 30 ppt would be for you. Our oysters are raised at the mouth of the Rappahannock. Our BayDream oysters are consistently between 15 and 20 ppt (see Ask Bob above). Our medium salinity BayDreams go perfect with wines, especially a Chardonnay.
Oysters need water with dissolved oxygen levels of at least 3.2 milligrams per liter, but 5.5 mg/l or more is best for survival and growth. In the winter DO levels are usually higher because cold water can hold more oxygen than warm water.