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Shore-side farm produces awesome abalone

So rare in the wild that it is illegal to catch it commercially, abalone is making a shimmering comeback in the Golden State, in part thanks to one farm.


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Abalone--so rare in the wild that it is illegal to catch it commercially--is making a shimmering comeback in the Golden State, in part thanks to one farm. The Abalone Farm in Cayucos started in 1968 and is the oldest and largest in the United States. It sells more than 100 tons of red abalone per year, accounting for more than half of the fresh abalone eaten in the United States. Its markets include sushi bars and restaurants from Los Angeles to New York, with some of the abalone exported to Asia.

One of the farm's top customers is Pandee Pearson, chef of Windows on the Water in nearby Morro Bay.

"Abalone is really great for a lot of reasons," Pearson said. "It's really tasty. It's unique. It's something really fun to have on your menu that people can't get at other restaurants and it's sustainable. And it's local for us. Lucky us!"

Brad Buckley from the farm said they are able to grow and harvest abalone all year round, although it takes up to four years to get them to market size.

Often referred to as the snail that lives in the ocean, abalone was pushed to near extinction by the 1990s, but thanks to a new generation of shore-side farmers, like the Abalone Farm, the market looks to be awash with abalone for generations to come.

For more information, visit www.abalonefarm.com.

Click to read a related story from the November/December 2016 issue of California Bountiful magazine.


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