Bellarine Tast Trail

Highlights

 

Mussels in Portarlington

Portarlington is Australia's mussel farming capital and Sea Bounty Mussels and Advance Mussel Supply are the leaders in mussel farming on the Bellarine. Tonnes of mussels are harvested a day here; washed, sorted and shipped off to markets, supermarkets, wholesalers, cafes and restaurants all over the area, the state and the country.

As one of the cheapest forms of fresh seafood available, you really can't go wrong with mussels. They are high in protein, low in fat and contain lots of healthy omega 3 fatty acids. 

Australian blue mussels (Mytilus galioprovinicalus) are the most popular kind in the world because of their sweet and tender nature. Female meat is orange in colour while males have white or cream flesh.

Portarlington mussels are sustainably farmed - mussel farming is a relatively benign form of aquaculture as mussels don't require active feeding by farmers - they filter phytoplankton from the water, keeping it clean and benefiting the environment. The clean waters of Port Phillip Bay are monitored fortnightly for bacteria and algae to ensure the quality of the mussels.

The mussels are grown on ropes suspended in deep water (hence there's no sand in the shells). The ropes are hoisted up and run through special machines that strip the mussels, which are then cleaned and graded, sorted and boxed on the boat before being sent to their processing plant.

The industry experienced a slump in recent years due to lack of wild juvenile mussels (spat). A combination of factors had interfered with breeding, including increased temperatures and salinity, low rainfall and an invasive algal species on the ropes. The number of operators plummeted from 25 to just six.

DPI Fisheries developed the Victorian Shellfish Quality Assurance Program and and is overseeing industry development via its facilities at Queenscliff. A major part of this is the world-class mussel hatchery project, it has developed with significant financial and material assistance from operators.

FACT OR FICTION:

It's a fallacy to avoid mussels that aren't open. "If you have a bad one, you will smell it. It's easy to identify." Said Lizzie from Sea Bounty Mussels. You should cook your mussels first before adding to a sauce, to ensure all the mussel 'liquor' (salty water) does not overpower your sauce. Cook up some pasta and add them to a tomato and garlic sauce and enjoy.

If you're quite obsessed with mussels, Bellarine Brewing Co. has a treat in store for you! Among their beer range is Mussel Stout, a flavoursome stout brewed with Portarlington's Australian Blue Mussels. Classic!

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