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Enjoying the Wellfleet Oyster

Josie Cataldo | 9/22/2022 (updated 9/18/2023)

My Introduction to the Beloved Wellfleet Oyster

When I was a little girl, my father would take me to Indian Neck beach in Wellfleet to hit the tide for oysters and clams. We would rake through the coffee-colored sand until his basket was full and hands calloused. I remember wondering how anyone could consider something retrieved from disgusting-smelling sand a delicacy. Fast forward fifteen years, and I now have a deeper understanding of these famed shellfish.


Characteristics of the Wellfleet Oyster

Though I might have a bias, I believe Wellfleet oysters are one of the best tasting bivalves out there. The waters of Wellfleet are cold and nutrient-rich with more tidal flow. These conditions make for the briny, succulent, and savory yet creamy deep-cupped oysters that we line up for annually at at Wellfleet OysterFest.


Aside from growing naturally in the favorable conditions of Wellfleet's waters, Wellfleet oysters can also be grown from seeds that are produced by hatcheries. Hatcheries are a lab/farm hybrid where shellfish are grown and cared for.

The aforementioned hatcheries utilize various spawn-inducing methods to harvest the seeds of the oysters. Once planted, it will take the oysters about 2-3 years of growing before they reach market size. To help oysters grow, the lab simulates conditions of early spring in regard to water temperature and sunlight.

Enjoying your Oysters

When it comes to enjoying your Wellfleet oysters, there’s no wrong way to do so. I'd have to say my favorite way to enjoy an oyster is on the half shell with lemon and cocktail sauce. This said, let's look at how the founder of Cape Oyster Experiences dresses his oysters before digging in.

Cape Oyster Experiences

Henry Dubin started Cape Oyster Experiences in 2020 to share his love for oysters with both visitors and locals. What motivated Dubin was that there weren’t many companies marketing the oyster as an experience. Thus, he partnered with Holbrook Oysters to bring his vision to life.

Flash forward two years later, and Dubin has hosted numerous backyard experiences, shucking demonstrations, and pop ups with small local businesses. A hit at these oyster experiences has been Henry’s homemade Strawberry Mojito Mignonette Sauce.

Mignonette sauce is a condiment traditionally used on raw oysters. It typically contains shallots, cracked pepper, and white vinegar, but Dubin put his own spin on the classic dressing. His Strawberry Mojito Mignonette recipe contains diced strawberries, apple cider vinegar, mint, and shallots. This vibrant, citrusy sauce is inspired by everyone’s favorite summer drink: the mojito! It pairs perfect with the crisp, cool taste of Wellfleet oysters.

Tips for Shucking

If you want to buy some Wellfleets from a seafood market, it's a good idea to improve your shucking skills! Here are a few tips and tricks that might help when it comes to opening an oyster. Don't forget to wear your gloves and use a towel when holding the oyster - you don't want to cut yourself!

1. Hold oyster flat side up so that cup is on the bottom. Have hinge pointing toward you.

2. Grab oyster knife, go in at hinge at 45 degree angle. Start to work your way inward. Don't use too much force as you don't want to break the shell.

3. Once you have worked the knife into the hinge, twist the knife so that it pops the hinge open.

4. Once it pops, slip the knife in and cut the muscle from the top of the shell. Then, discard the top shell and then cut the muscle from the bottom of the shell.