The City Magazine Since 1975

Oyster Lingo

RAKE (noun) a bed of wild oysters; (verb) a means of cultivating oyster beds by thinning and spreading to give them more room to grow 


CULL (verb): the act of carefully selecting and separating mature oysters and leaving younger oysters behind for future harvests 


CULTCH (noun): substrate of oyster shells spread where new oyster larvae can attach and grow 


SPAT (noun): a baby oyster larvae ready to attach to its permanent “home” (preferably another oyster shell) 


RACCOON (noun): the term applied to oyster clusters in the 19th century, perhaps due to the fact that raccoons love to forage in oyster beds


MIDDEN (noun): dense piles of discarded shell, some thousands of years old, left behind from Native American coastal feasts


MULE (noun): industry slang for triploid oysters, i.e. selectively bred sterile oysters that grow and fatten more quickly because they are not expending energy on reproduction 


LIQUOR (noun): the briny liquid contained within a raw oyster, to be savored, not wasted


MERROIR:(noun): The oyster industry’s riff on the wine term terroir, meaning the unique flavors imbued by a specific environment (terre means earth; mer means sea)