New mussels bred for flavour
Cawthron scientists make seafood breakthroughMICHELLE SUTTON
Different coloured mussels, with varied flavours, more meat, and a softer texture, are being bred in Nelson and could end up in stores.
Aquaculture scientist Nick King, of the Cawthron Institute, said the different coloured mussels included vibrant green and yellow-coloured shells, while other new varieties had slightly different tastes - some sweet and others salty like seaweed.
Mussels had already been successfully bred so they had different textures that were not as gritty, while others had more meat inside the shell. Others had been grown that were able to survive out of water for up to 20 days, providing extra potential for export sales.
Work was also under way to breed mussels that grew faster to reduce the two-to-three-year time frame leading to greater returns for industry.
"The focus at the moment is on traits that have immediate commercial value - faster growth, stronger shells, bigger meat."
The different varieties of mussels bred were part of the Cawthron Institute's shellfish programme, which worked alongside industry representative, SpatNZ, to improve productivity and minimise risk and diseases for the shellfish sector, Mr King said.
The programme was behind some of the latest research as New Zealand's aquaculture industry grew, he said.
"A lot of what we are doing is to develop techniques that can be used to grow shellfish like people used to grow different varieties of farm animals on land."
Work on growing different textures and flavours was done in conjunction with Plant and Food Research this year, using a panel of 15 mussel testers, made up of scientists and consumers, who detected different textures and flavours.
Although taste variation remained subtle, ranging from sweet to salty, they were looking into the impact of nature versus nurture for growing operations.
"If we could do something to breed a consistently delicious mussel then that would be fantastic and could end up in stores, but that's a long-term goal," Mr King said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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