Shellfish Background

Malpeque Oyster  (Crassostrea virginica)

The oyster is a bivalve mollusc which means they have hinged shells and are filters oysterfeeders. They source their food by filtering it from their water environment they are growing in. Their physical shell appearance are chalky white and vary in shape and size depending on the growing area bottom (sandy or rock bottom), available food supply, time of year and water temperature which all play a vital role  in the growth and shape of the oyster. The Malpeque oyster has a clean, characteristically “east coast” tough, outer shell, while the meat on the inside is firm and full. Its shell color can range, from white to brown to bluish white which also depends on their growing grounds and nutrients or vegetation present. In Prince Edward Island, the Malpeque oyster’s growth period is from May to late November with a recess in July for spawning. It takes on average from four to seven years for a Malpeque oyster to reach the legal regulatory market length of 76 mm (3 inches). Malpeques are cultivated in selected growing areas to maintain a superior and sustainable product for market size  and can either be “Wild” or “Farmed” depending on Method of harvesting. Either have a  shelf life which can range from several weeks to months depending on the time of year and final storage conditions. Oysters should be kept below 4ºC until consumed for maximum shelf life.

Why eat our Malpeque oysters?

Our Malpeque oysters are full of firm, plump, clear to greyish meat and are valued both fornutrition their ease of digestion (raw or cooked) and as an important source of protein, vitamins and minerals. Malpeques are low in fat, have good nutritional balance, and are one of the finest seafood treats to be harvested from the sea. The Malpeque is an easy to shuck oyster due to its hard outer shell, the texture is buttery smooth with a silky mouthfeel and is the perfect blend of sweetness and saltiness. A great summer time half shell or grilling oyster for all. Their great anytime of the year.

The Oyster Fishery

Malpeque oysters were the first Prince Edward Island product to be widely exported. We take pride in the fact that careful management of the fishery continues to place the Malpeque on the international market, where it’s noted for it’s high quality and excellent taste and is often referred to as the Gold Standard in oysters . Close monitoring of our harvest waters by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Environment Canada (EC) and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) enforced with tight regulation of our fishery helps ensure  a sustainable fishery, acceptable growing water quality and product safety which in turn provides consistent supply and instils consumer confidence in our Malpeques. Fishers still use traditional hand held rakes and tongs for harvesting oyster from growing beds, located in cool semi-enclosed bays and estuaries. The way oysters are fished on Prince Edward Island hasn’t changed much in the past hundred years and is very labour intensive. Oyster fishers still set out in small boats, known as Dory’s,  with tongs and boxes or crates to harvest oysters the way their fathers and grandfathers did to make their living. We are proud of our rich heritage and tradition with the Island oyster fishing way of life and our famous Malpeque oyster.

Please see “Our Products” page for a complete listing of brands available.

Northern Quahaug (Mercenaria mercenaria)

The Quahog, known as a quahog (or quahaug), round clam, or hard-shell (or hard-shelled) clam, it is an edible marine bivalve mollusc that is native to the eastern shores of North howardsshellfishAmerica and Central America, from Prince Edward Island to the far south. Quahogs are classified as bivalve molluscs because they have hinged shells made up of two halves, or “valves.” Quahogs also obtain their food by “filter feeding.” Water is taken in through a siphon and passed over the gills, which are specially adapted to filter out food (microscopic algae and other small organic particles). The filtered water is then expelled via another siphon. A large quahog can filter about a gallon of water in one hour. Quahogs prefer salinities between 18 and 26 parts per thousand. This is less salty than the open ocean (salinity about 35 parts per thousand, so quahogs are often found in estuaries where the mixing of fresh and salt water provides ideal conditions. Although quahogs can be found along the North American Atlantic coast from Canada’s Gulf of Saint Lawrence to Florida. Farther north, most waters are too cold for quahogs, restricting them to just a few relatively warm coves. Quahogs are incredibly versatile, and the size of each individual clam very much determines where and how it will wind up on your plate. Our smaller quahogs known as Littlenecks and Top Necks will often be served raw, steamed or on the half-shell, whereas the larger quahogs known as Cherrystones and Chowders are more likely to be stuffed and baked or turned into chowder or stew. Our quahogs have a mild flavor that is sweet and briny as our leases flush naturally with the ocean tides daily that offer a briny, nutrient rich sea water to the quahogs for feeding. Quahogs are sold fresh live in many sizes and counts and as shucked meat, frozen shucked meat, frozen on the half-shell, canned, and in value-added products such as sauces and soups. Fresh quahogs have a good shelf life and should be tightly closed unnamedwhen bought in the shell and any open live shells should snap shut when tapped or put in cold water. We only sell fresh quahogs. Our quahogs are hand dug and harvested by fishers in a sustainable fishery. The quahog fishery is enforced with tight regulation to helps ensure this. We buy regualtory size quahaugs (2″ minimum), sort by size and store them by count on our own lease.We only purchase our quahog supply from fishers who harvest from open and approved harvesting waters that are closely monitored by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Environment Canada (EC) and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).  Our Quahog availability is generally from May till October.

Why eat our Quahogs?

They are:

  • High in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s help to strengthen your heart, boost your nutrition1memory and promote healthy blood pressure. So adding clams to your regular diet can be good for both your heart and your brain.
  • A rich source of protein. Getting plenty of good quality protein helps increase your endurance, build lean muscle and keep you going at full-speed all day long.
  • Filled with iron. Clams have a high iron content, which helps get more oxygen into your blood. That oxygen is vital for muscle health and brain function. Iron also helps fight fatigue and reduce your risk of anaemia.
  • Naturally high in potassium. This mineral also helps improve brain function, with the added benefit of offering protection against strokes. Additionally, potassium also helps maintain healthy blood sugar, protects your heart health and supports normal kidney function.
  • Full of vitamin B12, which is a great fatigue fighter and an even stronger weapon against the development of Alzheimer’s

Please see “Our Products” page for a complete listing sizes and counts available.