Wellfleet Oysters (Crassostrea Virginica) are available from September through July. They grow wild and are beach and bottom cultured in the estuaries of Wellfleet Harbor halfway up the arm of Cape Cod. The harbor bottom is clean pebbled sand with seaweed. Tides, averaging 12 feet rush into Wellfleet harbor twice a day bathing the oysters in nutrients while exposing the oysters to air during low tides. The waters in Wellfleet Harbor and its estuaries are colder than those farther south, slowing down the oysters' growth, causing the oysters to store more glycogen, producing a sweeter flavor. Wellfleet Harbor, has few freshwater sources allowing it to maintain a salt content around 2.8% producing a sharper, cleaner flavor. Wellfleets grow to 3" within two to three years.
The shells are a little brittle, averaging 3" with cup sizes ranging from medium deep to deep. The flesh is very light brown to sand colored and the gills are dark brown to black. The polished brown to polished green cups look lightly tumbled with worn, smoothed down ridges. The caps are light brown with a dark green to almost black wash around the edges. The meat fills 85% of the cup with the liquor filling 15%.
The liquor is briny and musky with a tidal estuary smell while the oyster as a whole smells like ocean sea spray smell with a touch of seaweed and with a few whiffs becomes intensely tidal pool. The oysters are potato chip plus salty with some beef broth and a mild sweetness in the middle. The Wellfleets are firm and full and the abductor crunches like a pickled gerken and has a sweet taste. I am drinking some Cider House 12 Sparkling Dry Cider and also have a wedge of Humboldt Fog cheese. The cider cleans the oyster's flavors out and the oysters' saltiness pulls out the cider's apple flavors. The cider's tannins, tartness and dryness play very well with the Wellfleets' salt, umami and light sweetness and also bring out melon in the oyster while the oysters' meaty flavors highlight the cider's apple. The Humboldt Fog is creamy, lemony and tart and works well with both the Wellfleets' salt and umami and the Cider House 12's dryness, tartness, and tannins. The cheese also helps find the oysters' melon and cucumber. The cider and cheese are a good strong pairing for the Wellfleets. Belgian Ales and Belgian IPAs, German Helles and Czech Pilsners would also pair well. The Wellfleets are iconic and a no-brainer to order if you see them on a menu. I rate them 88.