Aw, Shucks!

Oyster on ice
Photograph by Kevin Shields

Chocolate truffles and heart-shaped candies are for amateurs — true romantics know that oysters make the best Valentine’s Day treat. Jury’s out on whether the briny filter feeders actually possess their reputed aphrodisiac kick, but, heck, we’ll take an excuse to slurp down those little mollusks any day.


Oysters produced annually in Maine, give or take. At about 60 cents a pop wholesale, that’s more than $4 million worth of filter feeders.


Oyster farmers in the state, as of last count by Dana Morse, an aquaculture specialist at UMaine’s Sea Grant program — a number that’s been on the rise for years.


Approximate calories you’ll consume if you split a dozen oysters with your Valentine. Even if they aren’t libido enhancing, they’re low in fat, high in protein, and rich in vitamins and minerals.


Roughly how many months it takes the average Maine oyster to grow large enough to harvest. “Due to their superior quality, nearly all of Maine’s oysters go to the raw or half-shell market,” notes the Sea Grant program’s Catherine Schmitt.


Species — Crassostrea virginica (eastern oysters) and Ostrea edulis (European flat oysters) — raised in Maine. The former are natives, but only a few wild populations survived past the last ice age, most notably in the Sheepscot River.


Price per dozen half-shells at Eventide, the Portland oyster bar that Condé Nast Traveler ranked among the 100 best restaurants in the world. Not a bad way to impress a date.


Year that Herb Hidu, a UMaine professor and a founding father of the Maine aquaculture industry, started experimenting with oyster cultivation on the Damariscotta River.