Frequently Asked Questions

Our frequently asked questions about our products and services from the Native Oyster & Shellfish Company.

Oyster Aquaculture

IS OYSTER FARMING A GOOD THING?

Open tab

In our view the answer is yes!

Farming oysters is a sustainable operation. All that is required is clean water and a little bit of sunshine. Unlike other aquaculture activities, we do not feed our animals, or use any chemicals, fertilisers, pesticides or medicines. We, and the oysters, rely entirely on Mother Nature and the bounty that she delivers. This is why we are passionate advocates for protection of the marine environment. 

In addition, the oysters help maintain a healthy ecosystem by filtering the water, and they also provide habitat for other organisms to exploit, such as seaweed, shore crabs and a multitude of young fish species.

As a result, the culture of oysters is arguable one of the most sustainable methods of producing protein available to us today.

WHY NATIVES?

Open tab

Today in Europe, the Rock Oyster (Crassostrea giga) dominates commerical farming operations, but it was not always such.

In the recent past the Native European Flat Oyster (Ostrea edulis) dominated. However overfishing and the appearance of two diseases have devastated natural beds and made cultivation an unattractive option.

We are passionate about this 'relic' species and we have taken the decision to focus our efforts upon it. This reflects that fact that our business is not simply about selling oysters, we are actively involved in Native oyster restoration activities, and as such our decision making criteria are therefore a bit different from the average oyster farm business.

We still grow Rock oysters on our farm but these are a 'means to an end'. The end being a Native oyster only farm. Of course, this shall take a bit of time but we are well on the way already!

HOW DO YOU FARM OYSTERS?

Open tab

In short, there are lots of techniques that can be used.

In our case, and in common with most other Europan growers, we use the intertidal zone around the low tide mark to place our culture equipment. This is the point where we divergence from the bulk of the other growers. Instead of using standard equipment we use a unique Australian longline system which employs cylindrical baskets. We believe this allows us to produce a better quality oyster in a more efficient way.

Moving forward we also currently experimenting with floating subtidal equipment, which is commonly used in North America.  

Oysters

WHAT ARE THE SIZES AND WHAT DO THEY MEAN TO ME?

Open tab

Oysters are sold in a wonderful range of sizes and weights. We try to keep things simple but there are variations between the two oysters we sell. In short, for the same grade the Rock oysters shall be heavier than the more delicate Natives.

Our Rock Oysters:

Bistro - Approximately 60 to 80g. Small items, think tapas or cocktails, ideal with drinks.

Standard - Approximately 80 to 120g. Restaurant standard size, ideal as a starter (3 to 6) or as a main course (12).

Large - Approximately 120 to 180g. Think of this a 'beefed-up' version of the standard. Again ideal as a starter (3 to 6) or as a main course (12). Also good for cooking with, and cooked oysters are very undervalued.

Extra Large - Anything bigger that 180g. These are 'supersized'. Best suited to cooking or if eaten natural, to those how are adventurous!

Our Native oysters:

Bistro - Approximately 40 to 60g. Small items, think tapas or cocktails, ideal with drinks.

Standard - Approximately 60 to 80g. Restaurant standard size, ideal as a starter (3 to 6) or as a main course (12).

Large - Approximately 80 to 100g. A slightly larger version of the standard but the animal shall be at least a year older. Again ideal as a starter (3 to 6) or as a main course (12). Also good for cooking with, and cooked oysters are very undervalued.

HOW DO I STORE MY OYSTERS?

Open tab

When you receive a delivery from us, each box shall contain two inner boxes. These inner boxes shall hold your oysters, they are waterproof and the oysters are packed in a protective layer of seaweed to keep them cool and moist.

So if you plan to eat them in the next day, two at the most, just pop the inner box, or boxes, in the fridge and job done.

Alternatively, unpack the box and place the oyster cup side down in a bowl or on a tray, this is to make sure they do not leak all over the fridge. Place them in the fridge and cover damp cloth to keep them cool and moist. The goal is to keep the oysters alive and stop them drying out.

SHOULD I STORE THEM IN ICE?

Open tab

No you should not store them in ice. If you store the oysters in ice they shall either die from exposure to the cold or drown in the melted fresh water. Only use ice to serve oysters.

HOW SHOULD MY OYSTERS LOOK AND FEEL?

Open tab

When stored in the fridge the oysters should be closed, they may open slightly but should close again when handled. They should not have a strong smell. Any oyster that is open and does not respond is dead and should be discarded. If an oyster is tapped and sounds hollow it is also likely to be dead, or at best dried out, and should also be discarded. If in doubt it is best to discard. Remember when eating raw oysters you are sampling their essence and the essence of the sea, that is the true pleasure.

HOW LONG DO MY OYSTERS KEEP?

Open tab

Your oysters shall keep in the fridge for 5-7 days. Having said that, it is our recommendation that you eat them within 2 – 3 days. Keep in mind that the oysters are still alive and they are best enjoyed as fresh as possible. 

CAN I FREEZE MY OYSTERS?

Open tab

Yes you can but we would not recommend it. We believe that oysters are best fresh from the sea either natural (raw) or cooked. If you do freeze your oysters, only use them for cooking, and given that the freezing process is rather unforgiving on delicate meats, it would be best to use them in some sort of casserole or stew.      

CAN I EAT OYSTERS IN A MONTH NOT ENDING IN “R”?

Open tab

The traditional “R in the Month” adage. This holds that you should not eat oysters during months that do not have the letter “R” (May, June, July, August). The primary reason for this is that oysters are spawning during this period.

The answer is it depends!

Rock oyster (Crassostrea gigas). Yes, you can eat this variety all year round. The Rock oyster is not native to Scotland and the lower summer sea temperatures here mean it does not spawn on our farms during this period.

Native oyster (Ostrea edulis. No, you can not eat this variety all year round. This is our native flat oyster and spawns during this period. We only sell this unique oyster from September to April, when it is at is best.

Shucking

HOW DO I SHUCK MY ROCK OYSTERS?

Open tab

These oysters can be tough to open, particularly large examples. However keep in mind that opening an oyster is a skill and not a test of strength. Good tools, proper preparation and a bit of practice and you shall be up to speed in no time.

There are various methods that can be employed. Here is good standard example: 

https://youtu.be/qchyv_HrSHc

  

HOW DO I SHUCK MY NATIVE OYSTERS?

Open tab

These oysters have to be handled much more gently than their more robust cousins. Again keep in mind that opening an oyster is a skill and not a test of strength. Good tools, proper preparation and a bit of practice and you shall be up to speed in no time.

There are various methods that can be employed. Here is good standard example: 

https://youtu.be/8lFkYG0k6lk

WHICH KNIFE SHOULD I USE TO SHUCK MY OYSTERS?

Open tab

This really comes down to personal preference and also what shucking method you favour. Having said that, as is always the case in life you get what you pay for, and an oyster knife is no exception. 

If pushed to give a recommendation we would recommend:

https://www.wuesthof.com/en-az/oyster-opener-4284/

 

SHOULD I USE A GLOVE?

Open tab

Again this comes down to personal preference, knife used and skill level.

If you are going to be shucking a large number of oysters, or are relatively new to the art, then a glove is probably recommended.

If you are using a thin bladed knife (traditional French style) then a glove is also probably recommended.  

Packaging

WHAT KIND OF PACKAGING DO YOU USE?

Open tab

We are passionate about the environment and have a strong belief in the concept of the circular economy. We have tried to apply these  fundamentals to our packaging.

When you receive oysters from us they shall be packed in fully recyclable cardboard boxes (outer and inner), we do not use polystyrene. There shall also be cardboard liners that help maintain temperature.

The oysters shall be contained within the inner cardboard box. This shall be packed with seaweed to keep the oysters moist and happy and this can go straight into compost or food recycling.

There shall also be cooler gel packs. The fluid is a salt polymer and can safely disposed off down the drain. The plastic wrapper should be able to be recycled but that depends upon what recycling facilities are available in the vicinity.   

   

IS YOUR PACKAGING RECYCLABLE?

Open tab

In theory the answer is yes, our packaging is 100% recyclable.

We are very proud of the fact that we, with our partner Smurfit Kappa have been able to develop a box delivery system that is made of 100% recyclable cardboard. As far as we are aware, this is a first for the seafood industry, and permits us to avoid using polystyrene.

The only item with the packaging materials that may create problems is the plastic used to make the gel cool packs. This plastic should be recyclable but it depends upon what facilities are available in the vicinity.

Like all things, the packaging story is a journey. We are continue to make improvements and in the short term we shall be changing the cool gel solution to ensure it is easier to recycle. 

Delivery

HOW LONG SHALL MY DELIVERY TAKE?

Open tab

Subject to availability, we aim to ship orders on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of every week. Under normal circumstances delivery shall be the following day.

Our aim is to provide our customers with the highest quality oysters, that deliver that essence of the ocean. To do that, we need time to prepare the animals and that is why we operate this delivery model. 

If there is an issue with your delivery, or you have a special request, then please email us at sales@scottishshellfishcompany.com

WHO SHALL MAKE THE DELIVERY?

Open tab

Currently use Parcel Force for all our deliveries. When your order is dispatched we shall provide you with tracking identifier and you shall be able to track it directly on the Parcel Force website.

CAN YOU DELIVER TO A DIFFERENT ADDRESS?

Open tab

Yes. We can deliver to a work address if you prefer or to a third party if it is a gift.

WHAT HAPPENS IF NO-ONE IS IN TO ACCEPT DELIVERY?

Open tab

The courier should put a card through your letterbox saying they have attempted delivery and provide a contact number to arrange re-delivery.

However beware. The oysters are live animals, and they shall not take well to an extended period of time in transit. When ordering our oysters please select a delivery day when you know for certain someone shall be available to accept the delivery.

Please see our Terms & Conditions for further details.

DO YOU DELIVER INTERNATIONALLY?

Open tab

At present we only deliver to the UK.

Returns & Refunds

I HAVE AN ISSUE WITH MY ORDER. WHAT DO I DO?

Open tab

We have a huge amount of pride in the oysters we grow and we want all customers to be just as happy with their order. Indeed we want happy customers!

If something is not right, or you have a question, email us at:

sales@scottishshellfishcompany.com 

and we shall get back to you as fast as we can. Please remember to include a picture of any faulty order.

CAN I RETURN MY ORDER?

Open tab

Unfortunately oysters are a perishable product so you can not return your order.

If something is not right, or you have a question, email us at:

sales@scottishshellfishcompany.com 

and we shall get back to you as fast as we can. 

CAN I CANCEL MY ORDER?

Open tab

Yes you can cancel your order up until 5pm prior to the day of dispatch. Just email us at:

sales@scottishshellfishcompany.com

Please make sure to include your order number and we shall cancel the order.

Close (esc)

Popup

Use this popup to embed a mailing list sign up form. Alternatively use it as a simple call to action with a link to a product or a page.

Age verification

By clicking enter you are verifying that you are old enough to consume alcohol.

Search

Your cart is currently empty.
Shop now