Apr 10, 2008: Oyster Conformation


The ideal oyster is cup-shaped with a wide, fluted edge tapering towards the hinge. Healthy, growing oysters are very fluted and frequently very colorful, whereas an oyster that's starting to atrophy will have rounded, colorless edges.

The oyster above was one of three dozen in a package we shipped to California yesterday. In our humble opinion, April is the friendliest oyster month: the water is still cold enough so that the oyster meat is really firm, but it's starting to warm up just enough to let them feed and grow.

These are amazingly beautiful, right? Even to people who aren't obsessed with oysters?

Oysters can get long and skinny when they're grown too close together, and so grow upright like trees in order to access more nutrients. They don't necessarily taste worse than a cup-shaped oyster, but they're definitely more difficult to eat raw.

Samson Von Puddly illustrating poor oyster conformation.

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  • Oyster Culture | Hama Hama® Oyster Blog on

    […] The bags roll around in the current when the tide comes in. They serve two purposes: they protect the fragile oyster seed from predators, and they tumble the new growth off of the oysters, encouraging them to develop a deeper cup and more desirable shape. […]

  • Oyster Fan on

    Thanks! Writing the blog has helped us rediscover the delights of the tideflats, too. Unfortunately we don’t have plans to start selling at a farmer’s market anytime soon… it’s definitely something we should do, and we want to do it, but we have staffing issues. You can find Hama Hama Oysters at Metropolitan Markets throughout Puget Sound, as well as at University Seafood and Fresh Fish, in Seattle. We deliver to Seattle on Wednesdays. Thanks for your feedback!

  • aarwenn on

    I am completely obsessed with this amazing blog, and about to go buy some oysters from your store, or maybe (to save on shipping) wait until you arrive at the farmer’s markets. Thank you SO much for this! I have grown up on these cold beaches and now live in Seattle, and I forgot all about moon snails until your post on this. Ah, memories. Please keep up the amazing work, both the farming AND the writing!

  • (Almost) Everything you ever wanted to know about tumbled oysters. on

    […] if an oyster is growing too quickly or in crowded conditions, it can get long and skinny. We have quite a few of these so-called “bananas” on our beach, remnants from the days […]

  • Secrets Uncovered by The Half Shell : In A Half Shell [ Oyster Power ] on

    […] fast the oyster grows and how much space it’s been given to grow. Confirmed by Lissa James of Hama Hama Oyster Company, an oyster’s growth rate is a function of water temperature and food availability. The more […]

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