There’s a simple rule to remember prime oyster season: If the month has a letter R, go for it. If not, wait, or risk serving milky, bland oysters. September and October are the first months that meet this simple condition after a long stretch of R-less months. If your customers don’t already know about the rule, drop some hints, or simply say it loud and proud: Autumn means the arrival of the first big crop of fresh oysters to the Bay Area!
California’s oyster industry is confined to a small area, with Tomales Bay at its center. That makes San Francisco Bay Area fish markets the first stop in a world-class oyster pipeline. This year, due to record-breaking heat across the state, there may be concern that this Fall’s crop lacks some of its distinctive bite and refreshing, buttery sweetness. One oyster that decides the water temperature is perfect to spawn in, can ruin the bunch. Warm water can also make conditions ripe for toxic algae or other harmful bacteria.
But Northern California oyster farmers now test weekly for contaminants and haven’t had a closure in a decade. And harvesters have all sorts of tricks up their sleeve to make sure a rise in surface temperatures doesn’t affect the crop. Some move their oysters into deeper water. Others store them in chilly tanks for a day or two before shipping to allow the oysters time to purge any contaminants and decide that it’s way too cold to spawn.
On top of advances in harvesting, farmed oysters have the advantage of being a green, sustainable option for your customers. By consuming algae, they have a very low impact on marine organisms and help improve the water quality of their environment. That’s why Pucci Foods takes pride in providing our customers with these shellfish, and you should too.
Now, some in the industry argue that the R-month rule doesn’t apply to the West Coast any longer, due to advances in oyster farming practices and the consistently-cold Pacific Ocean. After all, the oyster crop merely thins during the summer. It doesn’t disappear altogether. But while it’s possible to keep your fish market stocked year-round with the sweet and salty delicacies, there’s something to be said for tradition. Just as you could decide to have a beach-themed holiday celebration this December, it wouldn’t have the same satisfaction that comes with bundling up in a knit sweater, drinking hot cocoa, and cracking open some crab before the big meal. The Autumn Equinox may as well come served with a dozen gleaming oysters on the half shell. Visit http://puccifoods.com/retail/ and make these Bay Area gems your September and October display centerpieces to get customers in the spirit of Fall.