Oysters

Oysters

Anyone can grow a few hundred oysters, which I know because I have grown a few hundred oysters, several times over, thanks to the equivalent of a marine community-garden program in my former home of Damariscotta. The Damariscotta River is one of the world’s richest, most prolific grounds for the eastern oyster, producing more than a half-dozen varieties of the briny, sweet, buttery treats of the sea. Getting to be a dilettante oyster farmer there is like having a Napa Valley winegrower set aside a row of grapes and tell you, “Here, you can just have these to mess around with.”

Before I moved to Maine, my primary familiarity with oysters derived from the Rocky Mountain variety. (Those are bull testicles, for what it’s worth — I have no idea whether that joke lands outside of Montana.) The ocean kind, it turns out, are way better. And what’s more, some of the most pleasant and memorable mornings I’ve spent in the last 10 years have been wading in the Damariscotta at low-ish tide, tending to my oyster bags while horseshoe crabs wriggle on by, osprey circle overhead, and bemused egrets eye me from the shallows. Oysters, lobster, and more seafood products.

Increasingly, the Damariscotta may be just the tip of the shell. I started my oyster dabblings during the first stirrings of a Maine aquaculture boom that’s still gathering steam — oyster production here has tripled in the last decade. In the last couple of years, an oyster-bar boom seems to be following on its heels, and I predict we’re not far from a day when a visitor seeking a taste of Maine is as likely to ask for a tray of Gliddens or Bagaduces or Abigail Pearls as they are for a lobster roll. — BRIAN KEVIN

Brian Kevin is Down East‘s editor in chief.

Oysters

Anyone can grow a few hundred oysters, which I know because I have grown a few hundred oysters, several times over, thanks to the equivalent of a marine community-garden program in my former home of Damariscotta. The Damariscotta River is one of the world’s richest, most prolific grounds for the eastern oyster, producing more than a half-dozen varieties of the briny, sweet, buttery treats of the sea. Getting to be a dilettante oyster farmer there is like having a Napa Valley winegrower set aside a row of grapes and tell you, “Here, you can just have these to mess around with.”

Before I moved to Maine, my primary familiarity with oysters derived from the Rocky Mountain variety. (Those are bull testicles, for what it’s worth — I have no idea whether that joke lands outside of Montana.) The ocean kind, it turns out, are way better. And what’s more, some of the most pleasant and memorable mornings I’ve spent in the last 10 years have been wading in the Damariscotta at low-ish tide, tending to my oyster bags while horseshoe crabs wriggle on by, osprey circle overhead, and bemused egrets eye me from the shallows.

Increasingly, the Damariscotta may be just the tip of the shell. I started my oyster dabblings during the first stirrings of a Maine aquaculture boom that’s still gathering steam — oyster production here has tripled in the last decade. In the last couple of years, an oyster-bar boom seems to be following on its heels, and I predict we’re not far from a day when a visitor seeking a taste of Maine is as likely to ask for a tray of Gliddens or Bagaduces or Abigail Pearls as they are for a lobster roll. — BRIAN KEVIN

Brian Kevin is Down East‘s editor in chief.

Oysters