We’re quickly approaching October, and you know what that means!
Some farmers are slated to start the shucking in mid-October this year, so we’re just about a month or two away from another great oyster season.
About a month and a half ago we made another trip to Sakoshi to check out how the oysters were doing. Between then and now I’ve been super busy getting ready for new customers through Yahoo! Shopping, expanding our line-up through the Furusato-Noze program (we’re currently ranked #1 for Ako!), and working on new promotional videos (1, 2, 3) for our products! So, please forgive us for the lateness in this Oyster status update.
The ocean temperatures continue to be uncharacteristically warm, and the month of August provided very little rain; however, the Sakoshi farmers continue report above average growth, and stable health conditions in the oysters.
Farmers in Sakoshi (and throughout Japan), primarily purchase their oyster “seeds” through third party supplies in two locations: Miyagi and Hiroshima. However, over the last few years there has been growing enthusiasm in “Jidane,” or oyster seeds produced at the farmers locality. We checked the growth of these baby oysters and learned more about the early life of oysters on this trip.
At this point in the season the oysters are producing eggs. In fact, if you were to scoop some water from the bay and let it settle, you’d be able to see some of the baby oysters that these oysters are producing–under a microscope, of course. Between October and November, as the sea water cools, the oysters stop producing oysters and begin to fatten up, storing energy for the winter. However, many oyster lovers actually prefer the creamier flavor of early season oysters. You can see some of the streaks from the eggs in the photo below.
Typhoon 9 has now based by us to the southwest, but perhaps the biggest typhoon of the season (Typhoon #10, “Haishen”) is projected to make landfall on the 6th. During typhoon season the farmers are constantly in a dance of moving the oyster beds further out to sea to attract lower temperatures and more plankton, and moving them back closer to shore to prevent the oysters lines from shaking and swaying too much in the rough typhoon waves. We’ll have to wait and see how the oysters fair this year. We’ll be looking forward to another trip out to Sakoshi in the next month or so.
Great news from the office here at Funabiki Shoten! We passed our HACCP certification inspection in March 2020! Our shucked flash (“proton”) frozen oyster product, Dekapuri Oyster, is now officially certified.
HACCP, Hazard analysis and critical control points, is a systematic approach to controlling hazards in manufactured food products. It was originally developed by Pillsbury (with NASA) to create safe food for consumption in space. You can read more about the history of HACCP and why it’s important for the food industry at Wikipedia.
The seafood industry in Japan is changing to meet global demand and keep up with the competition. Japan Fisheries Association is constantly improving and working with international bodies to keep businesses like ours informed on the latest guidelines. Working with consultants at Earth Environment Service, and through lectures with instructors from the Japan Fisheries Association, we’ve doubled down on our commitment to food safety and premium quality in all our products.
HACCP certification is something we’ve been working toward for about two years now. While the documents and record keeping are an important part, far more important are the employees that have helped implement and maintain manufacturing standards on the factory floor. Special thanks go out to our floor manager Mr. Minami and all machine operating staff (especially Ms. Morioka, Ms. Kawahara and Ms. Hikimoto) for their tireless effort in creating and maintaining new sanitation and production quality standards.
If you’d like to learn more about HACCP through the Japan Fisheries Associations you can read about it in Japanese here: http://qc.suisankai.or.jp/
or in English here:
You can find a list of Japanese seafood manufactures with the certification here (Excel file in Japanese):
and here (Excel file in English):
Greetings from the coast of the Setouchi inland sea, Cody reporting.
A couple times a year we check the status of the oysters in Sakoshi to gauge the merroir. The french word merrior, like terroir for wine, refers to the the factors in the environment that change characteristics of oysters, like flavor and texture profile.
This year we took an observation trip much earlier than expected. Generally, the farmers and their staff complete the seeding of oyster palettes in May. So, a trip in June shouldn’t reveal much new information since the baby oysters have only been growing for a short time. However, this season has been different. We were surprised to see great growth for just a month of life in the Sakoshi harbor.
The oyster farmers suggested this could be attributed it to a variety of factors: the initial health of the baby oyster seeds, warmer temperatures for the seawater for this time of year, and a positive fluctuation of nutrients from nearby waterways including possibly increased natural plant based plankton from hillside runoff.
It will be interesting to see how the growth continues over the season. We hope that seawater temperatures remain steady, and typhoons or big storms are not so windy that the oysters break and fall from the lines.
That’s all for now, but we’re planning on another observation and research trip in July. So, come back around then and see how the oysters are doing!