Olympia Oyster Flavor Profile Characteristics

Olympia OystersSee image licensing info

Olympia Oysters are a Pacific Northwest oyster and are one of the oyster appellations from South Puget Sound in Washington State. They are an Intertidal Beach Cultured Oyster and have been farmed in Puget Sound since 1878. In 1889 the Washington Territorial Legislature dubbed these oysters the “Olympia” oyster because they were so taken with it.

Beach cultured oysters are raised on tidal beaches with sandy or rocky bottoms. They are accustomed to fighting the tides, clamping tightly shut during low tides to preserve their “liquor” and to protect themselves against predators. Because of this “tough” life, beach raised oysters are hearty. They have hard, sturdy shells which shuckers like to work with. And their ability to close tightly, coupled with their hard shells, gives them a longer shelf life.

Olympia oysters are the smallest oyster species in North America and only reach a maximum size of about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. They are the original species of the West Coast and were an important part of tribal. Huge Olympia oyster middens which would have taken thousands of years to accumulate were found in San Francisco Bay. And they were also abundant in the waters of Willapa Bay and Puget Sound. However, during the gold rush era of the 1850’s these oyster populations were exploited and over-harvested almost to the point of extinction. Today, the Olympia Oyster is hard to find and although efforts to restore its populations are underway, there are only a few places where they are grown, including Totten Inlet and Little Skookum Inlet in South Puget Sound, Washington.

Don’t let the small size of these oysters dissuade you from trying them! Although they are small, they hit you with more intense flavors than your typical Pacific or Atlantic Oyster.

 

Olympia Oyster
Location From Totten and Little Skookum Inlets, South Puget Sound, WA
Species Olympia Oyster (Ostrea lurida)
Oyster Availability October – May
Size 1 1/2 – 2″
Oyster Cultivation Beach grown
Oyster Flavor Profile Olympia Oysters have very small meats with a high brininess and sweet, coppery or metallic flavor.
Map See Olympia Oyster Map

Visit the Olympia Oyster website at: http://www.olympiaoyster.com/home.htm

See proper shellfish storage methods for the best way to maintain the shelf life and flavor of your oysters. Also, check-out our list of where to buy raw oysters.

 

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