Forbidden Oyster Flavor Profile Characteristics

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Forbidden Oysters are an East Coast Virginica oyster from one of the oyster appellations of Virginia.  They are raised where the mouth of the York River meets Chesapeake Bay.  Forbidden Oysters are a triploid oyster which means they have three sets of chromosomes (this is true of many cultivated oysters) which makes them sexless so they never spawn and are therefore available year around.  They are raised by the Rack & bag oyster farming method which yields plump oysters with deep cups.  The shells of rack & bag cultivated oysters can be brittle, so care must be taken when shucking them.  It is recommended to use the “lip shucking” method, entering from the side rather than from the hinge.

Harvesting Forbidden Oysters in the rack

Greg Garrett is the owner and operator of the farm, along with his wife Libby and a few crew hands.  His 14x great grandfather arrived in the New World in 1620 and later became the founder of York Town.  His family has been eating oysters from the York River ever since!  Greg is the first in his family to cultivate oysters for sale, and he chose the name “Forbidden Oysters” because the local county government has tried to “forbid” him from operating an aquaculture farm, despite having approval from the state along with all the necessary licenses.  He has had to fight local government tooth and nail in order to keep his aquaculture farm going. In October 2012 a court finally ruled in his favor.

Forbidden Oyster cultivation in Racks

Oyster guru Rowan Jacobsen says of Forbidden Oysters, “They are so delicious that (this may get me in trouble) they don’t taste like Chesapeake oysters at all. They are saltier than other Chesapeake oysters I’ve had, while still not being as punishingly, bitter salty as Chincoteagues and others that are grown on the Atlantic side of the Eastern Shore. The moderate salt is perfectly balanced by an irresistible sweetness and an instantly and unmistakably recognizable flavor of artichoke leaves dipped in butter sauce. Really, extraordinary flavor.”

Forbidden Oyster
Location York River & Chesapeake Bay, Virginia
Species Virginica or Atlantic Oyster (Crassostrea virginica)
Oyster Availability Year Around
Size 2″ to 4″
Oyster Cultivation Rack and Bag (on bottom cage)
Oyster Flavor Profile Forbidden Oysters have plump, tender meats with an extraordinary flavor, buttery texture, medium brine and a sweet finish.


Forbidden Oysters on the Hampton Roads Show


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