Rossmore Rock Oysters
Rossmore Oysters, the original Rossmore Oyster. It is now back to enjoy, grown in the North Channel of Cork Harbour, it is the very finest oyster one can buy. The shell is a perfect tear shape, and it is extremely plump. Do try some today!
Rossmore Rock oysters are some of the very finest to be found. They have been grown in Cork Harbour since the 1980’s, and production has steadily increased since then. The water in Cork is warm and rich in nutrients, and the flow of water over the oysters, ensures a bountiful supply of food. The process of growing these lovely oysters is complicated, and at every stage of the way the oysters must be tended for and looked after carefully.
The seed oysters are purchased from hatcheries at around 2-4mm in size. They are tiny! As soon as the oysters arrive on the farm, they are thirsty from their journey and need to be put into water for a drink! In 2020 we have purchased around 4 million seed, which arrive in a few polystyrene boxes, which would fit in the back of a car. If they all make it to market size… the farm would produce 400 tonnes. Not so easy to put in the same car!
The oysters are placed in a nursery system on the beach, where seawater is pumped from the estuary, and into a pond. The pond is slightly warmer than the sea, and so the algae blooms and produces more food for the young oysters. The nursery system is simple, and the water flows upwards through a small mesh glued to the bottom of pots. Each pot takes a few handfuls of seed, and as they grow the volume of seed increases. When the pot is half full, it is split into 2 pots, and so the process continues. As the oysters get larger, they are hand sieved, and when they reach 6mm or more then we know they will sit happily inside a 4mm mesh bag.
When the oysters are 6mm or larger, we place them quickly into bags, about 700 oysters / bag, which is about a pint in volume. These oysters are then taken quickly down to our trestles where the bags are tied on at low tide.
Once the oysters have been secured in their bags, they must be turned regularly. This both ensures that the weed on the bags stays clear, as the green weed is turned underneath away from the sun, and the shady squirts on the underside, die on the upper side in the sun. The oysters are also shaken out of the corners of the bags, as the wave action always washes them to a corner. The more turning that is done the better the shape of the oysters. Between 6-10 months later the oysters will have grown from fingernail size, to half a finger in size. Now they are strong enough to withstand a crab attack, and they are scattered onto our well prepared oyster beds. Here they will grow for 2-3 years before being harvested.
The oysters are harvested using our traditional oyster boat, the Haematopus. They are fished from the bottom, and the catch is sorted at the stern. The market sized oysters are kept, and anything small re-laid to grow more. The oysters are sold locally in Cork at the Douglas Farmers market on a Saturday, and for the first time in 20 years these are now available to buy in the UK.