The first-ever oysters farmed in Icelandic waters will be on the local market shortly, RÚV reports. An experiment with oyster farming which began five years ago near Húsavík, North Iceland, is finally bearing fruit. The oysters will be the star of the menu at a new restaurant opening in Reykjavík this fall.
Oysters have never been farmed so far north anywhere in the world, but they seem to have flourished well despite the cold of Iceland’s waters. The location has other benefits as well: the oysters can be eaten straight from the sea. “In most other places they have to go to a purification plant and be there for three days in chlorinated sea water so they are suitable for human consumption. But that’s not necessary here in Icelandic waters,” says Kristján Phillips, CEO of Víkurskel who is behind the project.
The cold water does however slow down the oysters’ growth – at the Húsavík farm, the shellfish take four years to grow big enough for consumption, much longer than most oysters farmed abroad. “But you get a better product from allowing them to grow slowly,” Kristján remarks.
Icelandic chef and restaurateur Hrefna Sætran says the new Icelandic product is very different from other oysters. “Oysters are classified in A, B, and C classes. And usually the oysters are around B-C that we are eating, from France and such. But these oysters are A oysters, meaning they are very clean and very fresh,” Hrefna explains. Hrefna is behind The Shellfish Market, a restaurant opening soon in Reykjavík which will be the first to serve up the oysters.
With the oysters on their way to Icelandic tables, Kristján hopes to increase production and staff at Víkarskel shortly. “We are going to try to have 300 000 units a year,” he asserts. “Three to five hundred thousand.”