Dutch Creuse (Crassostrea gigas)
The Dutch Creuse is the most common oyster in Dutch waters. The oyster has a deeper bowl than the Dutch Imperial oysters, and the oval shaped shell is grilled on the outside. Creuses are moved at least twice per year to another location where the best living conditions are at that moment. It takes about two till three years before the Dutch Creuse is ready for consumption.
Dutch Imperial oysters (Ostrea Edulis)
The Imperial oyster is the most exclusive type in the Netherlands. Due to the growing process of around five till six years, a sophisticated, slightly peppery flavour is achieved. The Imperial oyster has a round shaped smooth shelf. This oyster is moved at least once a year to another location so that the nutritional balance remains optimal, and the very best quality is guaranteed.
National park Eastern Scheldt
The Eastern Scheldt is an estuary of North Sea in the southwest of the Netherlands. Due to the secluded location, it is one of the cleanest Dutch seawaters. Since 2002, the Eastern Scheldt is officially the largest National Park of the Netherlands. The secluded location, in combination with the water temperature, the salt level and the swamp-like area, makes it an ideal place for lumpy, creamy and salty oysters.
In Lake Grevelingen too there is a former estuary of North Sea. Between 1965 and 1971 Lake Grevelingen was shut off from the open sea due to the arrival of the Lake Grevelingen dam and the Brouwers dam. The Lake Grevelingen lake is the largest saltwater lake of West Europe. The salt level is kept maintained by means of the sluice-gate, which is connected to North Sea. The secluded location, an abundance of food, and the limited temperature differences in the water make this area ideal particularly for growing Dutch Imperial oysters oysters.
The Dutch Creuse as well as the Imperial oysters are grown in Oosterschelde and in Grevelingen lake. Reproduction takes place in the month of July and August. The oyster larvae attach themselves to the collectors, for example empty shells or formerly roof tiles. After a few months the oysters are fished out of the bottom, and moved to another allotment of the grower, with the right conditions which fit best with the live-phase of the oysters at that time. In the last growing-phase (half till whole year), the oysters are taken to the cleanest ground with highly nutritious waters and a continuous supply of nourishment, which make the meat in the shell nice and chubby.
Once they are ready for consumption, the oysters are fished out from the sea, and after the initial sorting on the boat, they are placed in oyster wells. The oyster wells are situated directly across Oosterschelde, and by making use of the tides in Oosterschelde, they can be refilled with fresh seawater twice a day. During this period in the oyster wells, the oysters can relax, clean themselves up, and get rid of the last grains of sand. During this last phase, the oysters are inspected multiple times for their meat quality, in order to ensure the consumer the very best quality.
When, after a period of 3 till 6 years, the Dutch oysters are ready for consumption, they are fished out, after which every oyster undergoes the following procedure before being sent to the client:
Traceability and safety
The Dutch waters for oysters are among the healthiest areas of Europe. Since 1906, the government has taken measures, and the ministry of agriculture, nature and public health carries out weekly inspection in Oosterschelde and Grevelingen, regarding possibly harmful bacteria or algae, among other things. In case of any doubt, the area is cleaned immediately so that the strict guidelines of the European Commission are maintained. In the oyster basins of the growers, an inspection is done once a month for the presence of harmful bacteria. The oyster processing companies receive an inspection once a week to see if they meet the required standards. Due to the frequent and consistent inspection of every production aspect, the whole project is traceable and locatable.
In 2013, the Dutch oyster fishing business received the internationally known Marine Stewardship Council. MSC is a worldwide organisation that has a certificate program for sustainable fishing and traceability of fish and shellfish products. Growers are required to declare where the oysters have been fished, so that the whole route, from the fishing area in the Netherlands till the consumer, can be traced back, and the consumer can know where and how the fish product was actually caught.