Oysters in Zeeland
As a land of oysters, Zeeland has an excellent reputation. You’ll find two varieties here: the Pacific, or Japanese, oyster which we call ‘creuse’ and the ‘flat’ one (‘platte’) which is quite rare and has a unique flavour. It is only eaten raw, with a dash of pepper, and a drop of lemon juice.
Oysters are fished only in the Oosterschelde and the Grevelingenmeer lake where the water temperature, its salt levels and its purity are ideal for raising oysters. As larvae, the oysters settle on the oyster beds. The Japanese oyster is ready for consumption after three years, while the flat oyster takes five to six years to mature.
They are fished with dredging nets known in Dutch as ‘korren’, which scrape them off the beds. Then they are stored in the well-known oyster ponds in Yerseke which are connected with the flowing waters of the Oosterschelde. Here the oysters can rinse themselves clean of silt and sand, and settle. After a week, they are ready for packing.
The rare, exclusive flat oyster is only eaten raw, whereas the Pacific variety can be consumed both raw and grilled. October to end-March is the best time for you to enjoy oysters. The other months form their breeding period, when they are ‘milky’. The water in the shell is murky and the meat thin and unpleasant.