The frigid Atlantic waters surrounding peninsular Nova Scotia are the quintessential breeding ground for oysters, and just as climate, soil and terrain directly enrich the flavour profile of grapes, so too does merroir (think terroir but with water) affect the essence of oysters. Here, we’ve procured six varietals of Nova Scotia oysters from Hana Nelson, owner of Afishionado, who recommends storing oysters in the fridge with curved cups facing down to preserve the oyster liquor.
“Keep them covered with a damp paper towel or cloth to keep the moisture in,” says Hana. “Most people don’t know that can extend the shelf life of an oyster for up to six weeks from harvest date. Be careful of being too forceful, as you don’t want the shucker blade to pierce the stomach.”
For more information on ordering Nova Scotia oysters from Afishionado, including the very cool option to book their mobile oyster shucking bar for events, visit: afishionado.ca
1) CARIBOU HARBOUR
Located on the North Shore, Caribou Harbour oysters are traditionally harvested between May and February. After an initial hit of brine on the tongue, a note of light freshness, reminiscent of a thriving garden in early summer, lingers in the mouth.
Just beyond New Glasgow, heading towards Cape Breton, lies Merigomish. Known for their pearly white shells, Merigomish oysters are high in fat and yield shells that are full to the brim with plump, luscious flesh and medium-bodied salinity.
3) EEL LAKE
Twenty minutes east of Yarmouth, Eel Lake Oysters is a family-owned business that’s home to over three million oysters. The oysters are handled with extreme care — hand-graded, hand-sorted and hand-packed — and Eel Lake itself is tidal-fed, which results in “buttery sweet creamy oysters seasoned by the ocean.”
4) SOBER ISLAND
Sober Island is in Sheet Harbour, about a one and a half hour’s drive from Halifax, along Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore. Sober Island oysters are smaller, with green-tinged shells, smooth custard-like flesh and a balanced level of salt.
Sustainably grown Malagash oysters, from the Malagash Basin near Tatamagouche, tend to be on the larger side, and they come in a range of shapes due to the way mature oyster seeds fall and cling to the oyster bed. Slow growing, Malagash oysters have a calcified white shell with light greenish tones, and the meat is juicy and supple with a mild flavour.
6) SHAN DAPH
Grown in suspension units, ShanDaph oysters, from Big Island on the Northumberland Strait, are cultured from seed. ShanDaph oysters take three to five years to mature, and when they’re ready to be eaten, they contain velvety soft meat sheathed in a cloak of creamy white fat.