Ostrea edulis: the native oyster

Once abundant around our shores human harvesting of the native oyster (Ostrea edulis) means it no longer is so. Nevertheless, if you do a spot of beach combing for shells om beaches where where the sea floor is flat and soft, sandy or muddy, you can find them.
The native oyster is much smaller than the Pacific oyster which was introduced and cultivated for human consumption back in the 1920's. The native oyster rarely grows above four inches across and is also rounder and flatter than its distant cousin. It has a slate grey colouring with blue or brown highlights. 
The native oyster has a different flavour to the Pacific oyster and is considered excellent eating by those who know about these things but their decline and their rather small size means that the Pacific oyster now accounts for over three quarters of our consumption.
Ostrea edulis: the native oyster

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