Market Name: Oyster
Scientific Name: Ostrea edulis
Common Name: European oyster, edible oyster, flat oyster, Belon oyster
Flavor: Mild/Moderate
Texture: Delicate

European oysters, first farmed by the Romans, were so prized that they were transported across the English Channel in snow-packed barrels. Today, they are farmed off New England, California and Washington state and, to a lesser degree, in France, England and Norway. On the U.S. East Coast, the oysters are also taken from the wild. Some market names reflect European origins, like Whistable (England), Lymfjord (Denmark) or Zelande (Nether lands). Euro pean oysters are grown on the sea floor or in suspended systems employing trays, mesh bags or “Chinese hats” (Frisbee-shaped discs). These so-called “flat” oysters have a shallow shell and are harvested at 3 to 4 inches long. The species is primarily offered live for the halfshell trade. They are often incorrectly called “Belons.” In France, that name is protected by law; only oysters grown in the Belon River estuary of Brittany, in northern France, have a right to the name.

Product Profile:
Traditionally, flat oysters are reputed to have a finer flavor than all other oyster species. Their taste is fairly pronounced, with distinct salty highlights and a sweet to flinty overtone. There’s a slight metallic aftertaste, almost like sucking on a penny — nothing a sip of white wine won’t fix. European oysters are more rounded than Atlantic or Pacific oysters. Shells are flat, with little cup. Color varies from white to brown, with the inside a creamy off-white. The meat is a creamy to light brown, matching the shell lining. Cooked meat turns ivory.

You Should Know:
Flat oysters are primarily grown subtidally, so they don’t develop strong adductor muscles to keep themselves closed while in storage. To retain liquor, store cup side down, and take care not to break the fragile shell.

Cooking Tips:
European oysters are especially relished raw on the halfshell with a squirt of lemon and a drop of Tabasco sauce. However, consuming raw shellfish of any type is risky for people suffering from impaired immune systems. When cooking European oysters, the simpler the method, the better. Their full flavor also makes them a good addition to soups and stews.

Cooking Methods: Bake,Fry,Grill,Saute',Smoke,Steam

Substitutions: Atlantic oysters, Pacific oysters

Primary Product Forms:
Fresh: Halfshell, Shucked, raw meats
Frozen: Whole Halfshell Shucked meats, cooked and uncooked
Value-Added: Smoked

Global Supply: