Wellfleet Oysters are the Best in the World!

We are having a family feast for Labor Day 2017.  The guests of honor, as it always is for the Labor Day Holiday, is the Wellfleet Oyster and fresh Maine Lobster.

The late Howard Mitcham, a renowned chef that called Provincetown, Cape Cod home, called the Wellfleet Oyster the best in the world. In his book, entitled “Clams, Mussels and Oysters …”  Mitcham wrote that the flavor of oysters varies widely from region to region. And as anyone who has eaten a raw Oyster knows, the flavor is complex. Oysters can be sweet, salty, earthy, or even melon.

After last Saturday, two dozen Wellfleet Oysters later, we are in complete agreement with Mitcham that the Wellfleet Oyster is the most succulent, sweet oyster in the world.   The clean, crisp, cold Cape Cod waters help produce a wonderful abundance of Wellfleet Oysters, and they are prized by locals and visitors alike.

Interestingly, the Wellfleet Oyster is a transplant from Connecticut and the Chesapeake Bay.  After Cape Cod oysters were nearly fished out in the 1800s, the Wellfleet locals introduced young southern oysters into their waters.  The oysters were fattened up on sparkling clean river estuaries and then harvested and sold in Boston.  This created the first aquaculture, as it is known today. The result was a lucrative success for the harvesters and a joy to the taste buds for the rest of us.

Experts believe the cold water and the 12-foot tides combine to help make the Wellfleet oyster plump and sweet by providing them with ample, ocean-fresh plankton.

Generations later, the flavor of a Wellfleet Oyster is as distinct as Cape Cod itself.   Today, people all over the country order Wellfleet Oysters and have the oysters delivered right to their door as fresh as if they were just purchased from a Cape Cod market.

Some people are intimidated by the challenge of opening an oyster.  And everyone has their own special technique. But there some basic steps and advice that proves true.

When selecting an oyster from a fish market bin, try to pick the ones that have a very hard shell as opposed to oysters with a brittle shell.  A hard shell usually signifies a plump, healthy oyster inside. Make sure to keep the oysters cool when you bring them home.

Oyster Knife for opening oysters
Dexter Oyster Knife

Get a good oyster knife as no other kind of knife will work.  You will need one old work glove or a heavy hand towel to hold the oyster with. When ready to open, scrub the oysters under fresh running water to remove any sand but do not immerse them in water. Place them on ice or on a flat pan in a refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow them to rest.  This will allow the oysters to relax and make them easier to open.

Hold the oyster with flat side up. Place the knife at the small end of the oyster, or the heel.  Press the knife into the heel and twist. If it is too hard to open, some folks will hold the oyster and knife vertically and then tap the base of the knife handle on a cutting board or stone.  This drives the knife with a good nudge into the muscle and makes it easer to pop open the shell.  Try not to spill the oyster juices. Once open, slice under the muscle to cut the oyster from the bottom shell and place the opened oyster shell on a plate of crushed ice.  This keeps the oyster level and cold. Serve immediately.

The traditional serving is with a side of fresh lemon, cocktail sauce and horseradish.  A robust red wine compliments the complex flavor of the Wellfleet Oyster nicely.  Most adults can eat a dozen or more, so be sure to order enough.

Be sure to check out the Wellfleet Oysterfest in Wellfleet, MA October 14th and 15th.

© Lobsters-Online.Com 2017

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Day Boat Sea Scallops a Cape Cod Seafood Treasure

 

This time of Summer the Cape Cod “Day Boat” fishermen are arriving back in port each day carrying their precious catch of seafood treasure:  the tender, sweet Cape sea scallop.  All summer these small commercial vessels – or Day Boats – harvest from Cape Cod and Nantucket Bay the precious Cape sea scallop that locals love.
Chef’s all over New England prize the delicate, Cape sea scallop for its exceptional delicious flavor and plumpness.  The day boat scallops are a true renowned delicacy.  No where else in the world can these clean, sweet, succulent scallops be found.
From June or July through early Fall the day boats will harvest the wild-caught scallops from the pristine Cape Cod and Nantucket bay waters and sell them straight to local buyers where the scallops are processed and sent out to fine restaurants and seafood retailers. As popular as Maine Lobster this time of year, the scallops are so prized by locals, that most Cape sea scallops never get the chance to leave New England Cape Cod and Boston restaurants have a long standing tradition of offering freshly caught Cape sea scallops. 

Provincetown Cape Sea Scallops. Source WorldtoTable.com

So what is the solution for those seafood lovers that can’t get to Cape Cod this summer?
  
Thanks to a Cape Cod online delivery service – Lobsters-Online.Com  fresh day boat Cape scallops can now be ordered and shipped overnight anywhere in the country.
The Lobsters-Online.Com fulfillment facility — located in Bourne, Massachusetts on Cape Cod — processes the day boat scallops by hand.
“Our sea scallops are true “day boats” sourced daily from Provincetown Harbor on Cape Cod,” said Dan Brandt, the Lobster Trap Company domestic seafood buying manager.  “The scallops are all natural, shipped dry and chemical free. They are hand shucked and shipped within 24 hours.  Our scallops are never processed, treated, or frozen ensuring they are as fresh as if you caught them yourself!”
These sea scallops are so flavorful on their own that local chefs will tell you that if you add more than two ingredients to your recipe, “it’s too much.”  Cape scallops can be baked, broiled, sautéed or fried.  Many folks simply use a hot pan with a bit of butter. Just pat the scallops dry and drop them in a hot pan and let them sizzle for a minute. (Careful: the scallops cook really fast.) 
Indeed, the day boat scallops are so highly prized by locals that they are celebrated each September at the Cape Cod Scallop Fest on Cape Cod.   This year’s event begins Sept. 22, 2017 and will be held at the East Falmouth Fair Grounds. More than 55,000 people are expected to partake in sea scallop dinners, raw bars, craft shows and non stop music. 
© LobsterOnline.Com 2017

Try this Favorite Maine lobster Steamed-in-Beer Recipe at Next Family Outing

The next time you invite the family over for a lobster outing try this traditional old-time favorite Maine lobster steamed-in-beer recipe.  It’s a fun, easy way to prepare lobster and gives the lobster a great, robust down-east flavor.

You will need a pot or steaming kettle large enough to hold six lobsters, some seasalt, beer, fresh whole lemons and butter.   That’s it.

steamed Maine lobster
Maine Lobster

Ingredients:

Get Started:

  • Add about an inch of water to the pot. (Some Mainers use only beer)
  • If you don’t have seawater, add two tablespoons of sea salt.  You need to add salt even if you use all beer.  Always add salt when cooking live lobster.

    steamer kettle for lobster and clams
    Traditional kettle for steaming lobster
  • Add two 12-oz. cans of beer, IPA beer is a good choice.  Don’t use light beer.
  • Bring the water and beer to a roiling boil over high heat.
  • Remove the rubber bands from the claws and add the lobsters head first. Cover tightly.  Wait for the pot to return to boil and start timing.
  • Steam the lobsters 14 to 15 minutes.  About halfway through, stir the lobster at least once to move the bottom lobsters to the top of the pot.
  • Melt the butter in small pan and slice the lemon into wedges.
  • When done the lobsters will be a bright red and the tails will be curled under the body of the lobster.  Remove the lobsters with tongs and pierce the body with chef’s knife to allow water to drain.
  • Serve immediately with melted butter poured in ramekins, lemon wedges and cracking utensils.

Note, if you want to cook different size lobsters you can.  For each pound, cook the lobster 13 minutes.  Then three minutes for each additional pound.  While steaming is a flexible way to prepare lobster, be careful not to overcook.

If you want to try this easy to prepare recipe and can’t go to Maine, live Maine lobster is now available for home delivery.

Check out this steamed in beer lobster video from Capt. John of Maine.  He takes you from boat to table with his easy to prepare recipe.

 

© Lobsters-Online.Com 2017

 

 

 

Rare Calico Maine Lobster Spotted on Cape Cod

Bourne, MA — A rare calico lobster was spotted among the lobster tanks at the Lobster Trap Company facility at Cape Cod.  One in about 25 million, it is a very rare find.  They are not sure where it came from as it was mixed in with a large delivery.  Because of its spotted coloring, it was easy to see among the dozens of other live lobster floating around in the tank.

The typical lobster is colored a muddy brown with hints of red, which is the perfect color for hiding from predators.  Other rare colored lobsters such as calico, blue, yellow or green usually do not last long as they are easily spotted by predators on the bottom of the ocean.

Rare Spotted, Calico Lobster Found

© Lobsters-Online.Com 2016


 

2012 Maine Lobster Season Sets 123 million Pound Record

Boston – January 10, 2013 — Maine Lobster landings for 2012 saw a record 123 million pounds of lobsters caught, an astonishing figure that is more than 450% higher than just 20 years ago and further evidence of unparalleled growth for the industry. The value of the catch has gone from $72 million in 1992 to more than $331 million in 2012.

According to experts, no other fisheries segment has seen such growth during the last two decades. These figures suggest two conclusions: One, that the appetite among seafood lovers for Maine lobster has grown quickly, and two; that sustainable fishing practices have worked to keep the industry healthy.

Maine lobster boat leaves dock
Leaving the Dock in Steuben, ME

The challenge facing the industry is that the 2012 average lobster boat price – the price paid to fishermen for lobster at the dock — is the same as it was 20 years ago. Meanwhile the price of diesel fuel has tripled along with big increases in the cost of bait and boat repairs, creating financial stress for boat owners. In 2012 there were 4,345 active commercial lobster harvesters.

Jon Carter, a Bar Harbor fisherman, told the Bangor Daily News that the volume of his catch went up last year but he still had a hard time covering his expenses. For example, bait cost about $25 per bushel in the Mount Desert Island area this past fishing season. Carter said that price is “probably 10 times higher” than the per-bushel price he paid in 1994.

The record 2012 catch began early following a mild winter and warm spring. Experts believe the unusually warm ocean waters produced early gluts of lobster that dealers and processors were unable to absorb.  The early catch was weighted towards shedders, or soft shell lobster.  The price for soft shell lobster plummeted while the price for hard shell lobster did not.  Only hard shell lobster can be shipped long distances as the new shell lobsters are too delicate to survive out of water for more than a few hours. Local prices for soft shell lobster dropped while at some point, the demand for hard shell lobster drove hard shell prices up.

Last year’s harvest, while record setting in volume, has the experts worried.

As of January 3, 2013, reports to the Maine Department of Marine Resources indicate more than 123 million pounds of lobsters have been caught in 2012, an increase of approximately 18 million pounds over 2011.

“This unprecedented preliminary landings report provides us with both an opportunity and a challenge,” said Commissioner Patrick Keliher. “We need to look closely at this abundant resource and address the challenges presented when supply exceeds demand, as it did this past year, resulting in a decreased overall value which affects the entire industry. To put this into perspective, in 2005, the industry landed 70 million pounds for $320 million.

While the lobster fishery has experienced unparalleled growth in landings, the total value is almost $331 million, a decrease of $3.7 million compared to 2011.

“We will be seeking input into the development of management measures that respond to abundant supply and its adverse impact statewide on boat price, particularly in the summer months,” added the Commissioner. “These issues are a big part of the dialogue I will be having with industry over the next month during a series of public meetings.”

The 2011 lobster landings of 104,887,598 pounds with a value of $334,690,345 were at the time the highest lobster landings and value ever recorded since DMR and National Marine Fisheries Service began keeping records. At that time, the pounds and value increased from 2010 levels by more than 8.6 million pounds and $15.7 million. For reference, 2010 landings were 96,208,807 pounds with a value of $318,891,777.

In January 2008, DMR began collecting detailed trip level records from dealers. According to the information reported to date, there were 4,345 active commercial lobster harvesters out of the 5,961 commercial license holders in 2011.

© Lobsters-Online.Com 2013

 

Swimming with the Lobster at a Maine Lobster Pound

Ever thought of swimming with the Maine lobster? That’s exactly what Captain Denis Habza did when he put on his scuba gear and entered the BBS Lobster Trap Company lobster pound in Steuben, Maine a few weeks ago.

Habza entered the water armed with a video camera and filmed what lobster life was like just below the surface at the Maine lobster dealer’s pound. Lobster pounds are large ocean pens or coves with significant water flow for live lobster storage. With an estimated 12,000 pounds of live Maine lobster in the pound that day, there was no shortage of “actors” to film.

Maine lobster pound
Steuben pound holds 120,000 pounds of live Maine lobster

Habza is the founder of Squalus Marine Divers,  a recurring, online marine video program, broadcasting internationally, via the Squalus YouTube channel. The program objective is to promote scuba diving in the North East while seamlessly integrating a message of conservation, education and stewardship of the sea. Steubin Maine is about 250 miles from the Massachusetts state line.

This time of year, the pounds keeper buys soft shell lobster when lobster are plentiful and stores them for sale when their shells have hardened in September. In late summer and fall, lobster is purchased and stored for sale during the winter.  The lobster is purchased directly at the pier from the fishermen. The fishermen can also purchase fuel and bait while they are offloading. The BBS Lobster Trap pound can hold more than 120,000 pounds of live Maine lobster ensuring ample supplies year round. This allows lobster lovers to order their favorite seafood even in the dark of winter.

The lobster pound is a delicate ecosystem that requires aerating, feeding, cleaning and protection from ice during the winter.  Bands are placed on the lobster prior to entering the pound to keep the lobster from harming one another.  As Captain Denis points out in his video, “lobster don’t like other lobsters.”  And based on the video, they don’t like divers either.  The lobster in the video get very aggressive.

With Confusion in Market, Always Demand Hard Shell Lobster for Home Delivery

The 2012 Spring and Summer lobster season has seen an abundance of low quality, soft-shell lobster flooding Maine and Massachusetts markets.  This has created a great deal of confusion for lobster lovers who see news reports of record low prices for soft-shell lobster.  The problem is that this crop of soft shell lobster — or “shedders” — is very soft and can not be shipped any distance or successfully kept in holding tanks. The “extra soft” shedders are in a super weakened state and mortality rates are twice as high as normal.  They will last only last a few days in a holding tank and they experience double or triple the normal  mortality rate even when shipped just a few dozen miles.

Hard shell lobster are the only choice when shipping lobster longer distances as they travel better because they are healthier and stronger.  For home delivery, always demand hard shell lobster.

The 2012 live Maine lobster market confusion is being caused because 80% of the daily catch in Maine and Massachusetts is soft shell lobster instead of a more normal 60-40 summer split.  Shedders arrived early in 2012 and the over supply of soft-shell lobster are being sold at a loss to Canadian processing plants. The overflow is flooding Maine and Massachusetts restaurants and supermarkets.  Meanwhile, the demand in the rest of the country for hard-shell lobsters is over the top while supplies are abnormally low causing hard-shell prices to rise.

“Some of the lobsters that are being caught haven’t even had a chance to feed or harden at all,” said Carla Guenther, Fisheries Science and Leadership Advisor at Penobscot East Resource Center, speaking to the Island Ad-Vantages Community News. “They’re more like jellyfish than lobsters, almost liquid that will slide through your fingers.”

For local lobster lovers and processors, the low shedder prices are a boon.  For the fisherman, dealers and wholesalers, not so much. Many fishermen are complaining its not worth going out and wholesalers have no space to hold the glut of soft shell lobsters.

A steamed hard shell lobster with antenae
A steamed hard shell lobster

 

On the upside, the quality this season of hard-shell Maine lobster is excellent, according to Lobster Trap Company Sales Manager Dave Madden of Cape Cod.

“With the early shedder glut, it is ugly out there for sure,” Madden said. “But I’m glad to say our customers have all been happy with the quality of the hard shell lobster they are receiving!”

But soft-shell lobster shipping mortality rates aside, the truth is aficionados prefer hard-shell lobster because of the meat texture and the taste. The meat is firmer, flavorful and is more easily grilled or baked.  Meat from a soft-shell lobster is often watery and stringy though some people think there is a special sweetness to the flavor.  But you can’t put a soft shell lobster on a grill as the meat will often fall apart.  It can be tricky to bake-stuff one as well.

More meat per pound

Hard shell lobsters are often desired as they offer more meat per pound.  A soft shell lobster will have more water weight than a same-size hard shell lobster.  That is because after a lobster molts, or sheds its old shell, the new shell underneath is larger.  Until the shedder grows into that new shell, that extra space is usually filled with water.

But in truth, you will find some local folks in Maine who prefer the shedders for their taste and ease of eating.  A post-molting lobster in its weakened state is not considered low quality. They just don’t transport well and are not expected to be crammed full of meat. The price per pound is often less as well and when eating, their shells are more easily opened.

However, when ordering for home delivery one should always demand hard-shell live Maine lobster.  Even in normal times, a soft-shell will lose water weight in transport and there is a very high risk the lobsters will perish en route.  Quality lobster delivery services will rarely, if ever, ship shedders for home delivery.

Molting process is fascinating. 

In order to grow, an adult lobster will shed its old shell dozens of time during its lifetime (females more often than males).  The lobster grows a new shell beneath the old one.  When it molts, the old shell splits along the back and the new shell is like a thick skin, soft enough to allow the lobster to twist and wiggle itself free from the old shell.  It is not unusual for the lobster to then feast on the old shell to help quickly regain the lost calcium.

Molting is most common when the Atlantic Ocean begins to warm in June.  The new-shell season will run all summer through October and beyond, depending on the drop in water temperature.  Over the winter the new shell will harden and become next season’s hard shell lobster.

The question of hard shell vs. soft shell is usually one of preference and opportunity.  For connoisseurs, the lobster eating experience is not complete unless you have to work to crack and pick the shells apart to get to the succulent meat inside. For those people, hard-shell lobster is always the way to go.

© Lobsters-Online 2012

Maine Christmas Lobster Tradition Stands 60 Feet Tall

When Christmas lights and other decorations appear on houses and yards along the famous Maine lobster coast, another strictly Maine lobster tradition occurs. Lobster traps are stacked high on land in the shape of a Christmas tree and are decorated with Christmas lights and become the centerpiece of holiday festivals.

Lobster is considered one of the most popular celebration foods in the country, and the Maine lobster dinner is especially popular during the holidays.  A million pounds or more of live Maine lobster harvested by fisherman from these coastal towns are shipped all over the country between Thanksgiving and New Years.  So it is only natural that towns that provide the fishermen that catch  the popular holiday food should do something special with the tools of the trade.  In one town,  more than a thousand lobster traps were used to create a lobster trap Christmas tree.

A Christmas Tree made of lobster traps stands 60 feet high in Beals Maine
Lobster Trap Christmas Tree. Courtesy Bangor Daily News

According to the Bangor Daily News (BDN),  a 60 foot Lobster Trap Christmas Tree stands  in Beals at the Moosabec Reach from Jonesport.  The traps are  decorated and topped with buoys arranged in the form of a cross.

Another lobster trap Christmas tree stands in Rockland and is more than 30 feet tall and features an  an illuminated lobster.

Building a Lobster Trap Christmas Tree
Building a 60 foot Lobster Trap Christmas Tree in Beals, ME

According to BDN, the two Maine municipalities are like countless other places across the country that erect large Christmas trees in public gathering spots. Only instead of using actual trees, they use decorated lobster traps.

The display in Rockland has been erected every year since 2003. This is the second year the people of  Jonesport and Beals  have decided to get into the act and build one. The Beals’ lobster trap tree consists of 1,364 traps, nearly twice as many as the number they used in 2010. It took roughly a week to build.

According to the locals, serving lobster for celebrations or during the holidays is a tradition older than America itself.  The lobster  trap Christmas tree is just another way to celebrate the tradition.

A television segment about the Lobster trap Christmas trees  is scheduled to be aired on The Learning Channel at 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10.

 

Maine Lobster Boat “Retires” to New Life as Boston Party Boat

What happens when a Cranberry Isle, Maine lobster boat retires after 45 years of lobster harvests and fish seasons and takes on a new life as a party boat right in the heart of Boston harbor’s vibrant new seaport district?

the retired lobster boat belle
The Belle slips by the Northern Ave. swing bridge in Boston Harbor one summer evening.

Not so surprisingly, according to the cruise operators Charlie Gibbons and Diana Adame, the old lobster boat seems to have found the perfect new home.  Refurbished with attention to detail and lovingly set up to accommodate guests, the 50-foot “Belle” sparkles under the bright city lights.

“The boat was well known and fished for years out of Gloucester and even spent time in Connecticut,” said Captain Gibbons, a former tow boat captain and fisherman.  “I have worked these waters for 30 years and now I want to be able to share my knowledge and offer people a good, fun time.”

Boston Fun Cruises currently embarks from the wharf behind the Barking Crab Restaurant. The vessel is tucked behind the old Northern Avenue swing bridge.  Each cruise begins with the mighty bridge swinging its creaky, old iron rails open so the “Belle” can slip through.

Guests enjoying Boston Harbor Fun Cruise as they pass  the World Trade Center

With long sweeping lines, wide working decks and a heavy wooden canopy that stretches from the helm nearly to the stern, the boat provides an intimate vantage for up to 40 passengers.  The foredeck is deep and comfortable allowing guests to sit or stand and safely enjoy an open-air view.

Lobster boat on Cranberry Isle Maine
The “Belle” being built on Cranberry Isle, Maine in 1965
Lobster boat Belle at Rose Marine Gloucester
The “Belle” being refurbished at Rose Marine in Gloucester, Mass.

On a recent Sunday evening trip, passengers enjoyed views of everything from the new hotels and restaurants by Liberty Wharf to the imposing, brightly lit downtown skyscrapers.  A sunset canon salute was even observed while passing “Old Ironsides” in Charlestown; the USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned vessel in the US Navy.

 

To some observers, the Belle is easily recognizable as a Beals Island design, the type of seaworthy fishing vessel that has plied the waters of downeast Maine since the 1950s.   Gibbons said his boat was built in 1965 by boat builders Beal, Bunker and McCallister on Cranberry Isle. Both places are near one another and are famous for their lobster, lobster boats and lobster fishermen.

Harvesting thousands of tons of lobster and fish over all its years, the vessel finished up its fishing career in Gloucester, Mass and was refurbished in 2011.

“We did our restoration on the railways at Rose Marina in Gloucester,” Gibbons said. “With her mahogany and oak planking and all the extras used to prepare her for going to sea, you couldn’t afford to build a boat like this today.”

Boston Fun Cruises is scheduled to operate in spring, summer and fall with a special New Years Eve 2011 harbor cruise scheduled so guests may observe Boston’s famous fireworks.

 

October is Maine Lobster Month

 

Maine and lobster often go together in people’s perception, so it was  an easy step for Maine Gov. Paul R. LePage to  today declare October “Maine Lobster Month.”
The Maine lobster harvest for the year nears its peak in October, according to Gov. LePage.  And since Maine is the home of the American lobster, the governor said it is time to celebrate.  And not just celebrate the joys of lobster to the palate, but the pride for the Maine lobster fishermen as well.
Maine Lobster and Steamer Clams a New England Favorite
 There are 4,260 licensed Maine lobster fisherman. In 2010 they caught a record 93 million pounds of lobster worth more than $310 million. This year officials are hoping for another record harvest.

 “Many people think of summer when they think of lobsters, but the fall is prime time for harvesting lobster, and it’s a crucial time for the industry,” says Dane Somers, executive director of the Maine Lobster Promotion Council. “Each year Maine lobsterman haul in about fifty percent of their annual catch in September, October and November, with October usually seeing the heaviest harvest.”
Gov. LePage said Maine’s picturesque harbors capture a special quality as lobster boats come and go in the pristine, natural environment.  The state leads in lobster fishery conservation and sustainability practices.  The Maine lobster fishery is one of the oldest and most important segments of the Maine economy.

A Steuben, Me. lobster boat leaves the dock.
While the harvest may reach its peak in October, live lobster are available year round.
During the winter the catch is stockpiled in large, natural salt water lobster pounds.  This is why lobster lovers can enjoy baking and steaming live lobster year round.  Many thousands of people enjoy lobster all during the holiday season and when winter snow is on the ground.


Food and Wine Fall Harvest Festival
But for now, folks lucky enough to visit Maine in October can enjoy both Mother Nature’s magnificent fall foliage and a fresh caught lobster dinner.  Portland, Me. is hosting a food and wine fest, Harvest on the Harbor Oct. 20-22, 2011.  If you can’t get to Maine,  fresh Maine lobster can be ordered online in the winter, spring, summer and fall and shipped overnight anywhere in the country.  Celebrate Maine Lobster Month.