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MetroMan
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« on: October 04, 2012, 07:27:30 AM »

Through a friend that I know, I am presented with the opportunity to go on a DNR-hosted field trip next week. The trip is aimed at food bloggers in the Maryland area, to increase the publicity of Maryland's seafood & resources. On this trip (about 12 of us), we will tour the Clayton Crabmeat Company in Cambridge. There they'll show us how crabs are caught, picked, and how the meat is pasteurized and all that good stuff.

After that, we will go to the Choptank Sweet Oyster Farm and learn all about the growth & harvesting of oysters. I hate oysters, but I think this will be a neat experience. I'll be sure to post pics.

I should roll up there with my crabbing gear loaded on the car to crab the choptank afterwards lol...
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Grizzly36
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« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2012, 08:31:59 AM »

Sounds pretty cool.

I'll take two dozen oysters. Just wear some cargos or a big jacket and stuff your pockets.  I've got a BBQ this weekend and i've been dieing to try them grill on the half shell in their own juices.
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cja313
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« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2012, 11:23:04 AM »

take notes on how and where they are caught..then IM me the info buddy!!  I got a $20 bill with your name on it LMAO!!:)

Seriously though sounds fun!!
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« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2012, 01:16:01 PM »

Sounds like a great opportunity!
Take lots of pictures!
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« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2012, 04:12:05 PM »

Through a friend that I know, I am presented with the opportunity to go on a DNR-hosted field trip next week. The trip is aimed at food bloggers in the Maryland area, to increase the publicity of Maryland's seafood & resources. On this trip (about 12 of us), we will tour the Clayton Crabmeat Company in Cambridge. There they'll show us how crabs are caught, picked, and how the meat is pasteurized and all that good stuff.

After that, we will go to the Choptank Sweet Oyster Farm and learn all about the growth & harvesting of oysters. I hate oysters, but I think this will be a neat experience. I'll be sure to post pics.

I should roll up there with my crabbing gear loaded on the car to crab the choptank afterwards lol...

Are you involved in the restaurant or food industry?
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KI Crabber
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« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2012, 04:18:43 PM »

Sounds like a great opportunity!
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MetroMan
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« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2012, 09:44:28 PM »

Are you involved in the restaurant or food industry?

No, I'm not. My friend had a fried that backed out, so that's how I was able to work my way in. I am in the midst of working on a tv show project that involves cooking seafood though...


Maybe I should go crabbing the evening before and get them to pick em all for me lol
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fishingtom
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« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2012, 09:49:37 PM »

I can direct you to a nice quiet river down there if you are serious about taking your yak.  Plenty of crabs and easy paddling...Pm me if you want directions,   Tom
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« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2012, 11:16:56 PM »

That sounds really interesting, can't wait to see the pics.
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« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2012, 03:23:28 AM »

No, I'm not. My friend had a fried that backed out, so that's how I was able to work my way in. I am in the midst of working on a tv show project that involves cooking seafood though...


Maybe I should go crabbing the evening before and get them to pick em all for me lol

HMMMM
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« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2012, 07:50:46 PM »

Looking forward to the pictures and "report".  I would take the opportunity to crab the "chop" if you can.
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MetroMan
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« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2012, 07:34:04 PM »

Well...today was quite the hoot. I had such a great time seeing the behind the scenes world of commercial crabbing/processing. The trip started out this morning at J.M. Clayton Crab Company in Cambridge, MD.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip009.jpg

The tour started at 10am, given by one of the owners, who is a direct descendant of the original owner who formed the company in 1890. He began by giving us a basic background lesson about the blue crabs. He talked about their life cycle, water temps, how to distinguish males & females, etc...stuff anyone who crabs pretty much knows.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip020.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip022.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip025.jpg

This trip was geared toward food bloggers, not crabbers, so the basic info was given.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip027.jpg

We were then shown the tanks where the softshell crabs were kept. That was pretty neat.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip017.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip018.jpg

After a basic background on the blue crab, we moved onto the steamer room. They had two HUGE pressure steamers. In each steamer, they load two of their steamer pots. Each pot held something ridiculous...like 20 bushels of crabs!

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip014.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip015.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip034.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip035.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip033.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip036.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip037.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip038.jpg

The steamers are pressure steamers, operating at 15 psi. They steam the crabs until a temp of 235F is reached. This takes about 23 minutes. It was an impressive sight to see. The shear volume of their operation is CRAZY. After steaming, the crabs sit to cool. After cooling, they move to be picked.

The picking room was...well...I'll leave my personal feelings out of this and just report what it is. The room is full of people that sit all day and pick crabs. Everyone has their seat, and they labor away picking & separating crab meat for the entire day.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip042.jpg

Claws go to a separate table where people pick them...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip045.jpg

As the pickers work through piles of crabs, there are multiple staff members working in the room as well. One guy empties their trash cans full of picked shells. One guy sweeps the floor, and another guy literally shovels more crabs on the table to be picked. I have never seen crabs picked like this. The speed and efficiency at which they operate is astounding. Like robots with crab knives. Snap...crack...cut...scrape...pick...pick...pick...flip...crack...scrape...pick...



Multiple times per day, the crab pickers take their containers for weigh-in. Full cans of separated meat (jumbo lump, lump, & backfin) are taken to scales. Each picker's production is tracked & recorded on a big "scoreboard". Weigh-ins are mandatory, so there is no slacking. Random samples are taken for quality control. The samples aren't eaten, but an inspector will comb through the contents of the can or container to check for shells. (Cans are used for the meat that will be pasteurized, containers are used for the crab meat that is sold fresh.)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip047.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip053.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip054.jpg


The crab meat cans are then sealed, ready for pasteurization. They still have one of their old school canners in operation.



After canning, the canned crab is placed in wooden crates in which they are pasteurized, refrigerated, and shipped. 

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip048.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip051.jpg

Seeing the "pick house" was interesting to me for various reasons. Amongst the group, many questions were raised. How much do they get paid? They make a minimum of $7.40/hr. If they pick over a certain # of pounds per day, they make bonus pay as well. I don't remember the exact quota, but I remember doing the math when it was explained. They can't make much more than $12/hr, if I calculated correctly. They do not have health benefits. Workers Comp is about it.  If healthcare reform goes into place next year, the Clayton company will possibly be forced to provide health coverage. Their company does not qualify as a "small business"...as they have around 100 employees (40-50 qualifies for small). Their workers are here (in the US) for enough time to qualify for health care provisions. As you can see in the pics/vids, most of the crab pickers are foreigners...mainly of Hispanic descent. I think they were Mexicans. They are here on H-2 work visas. They make more here than they would back in their native country. During the winter months when no crabs are harvested, they go back to their country to be with family. Clayton Company owns several properties in which housing is made available for employees...like dormitory-type setups. Employees have the option of securing their own housing as well. Clayton ensures all employees that come to work on H2 visas have housing. The employees get breaks throughout the day. Most of the pickers come back year after year. The topic of them "taking our jobs" came up. It was said that the processing of the paperwork for each employee creates 2.54 jobs here in our country. They never get enough local people to take the job after continual attempts to hire. So there that is...

This was interesting to me in many ways.


After leaving the Clayton company, we went to Choptank Sweet Oyster Farm. This was all new stuff to me. I've tried oysters twice in my life. Absolutely hated them both times. DISGUSTING!! So I went into this portion of the excursion with my bias. Oyster farming is pretty [dang] interesting. I mean...I don't even know where to begin. This is a huge oyster farm. THey have these floating mesh pot type devices in which the oysters grow. Its hundreds of thousands of oysters grown here.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip057.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip071.jpg

As the oysters grow in these pens, they cull & separate them according to size. This is a labor intensive job! They wade out into the water and pull in the pens. If some of the pens are out deep, they use a little boat.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip079.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip063.jpg



When the oysters are ready for market, they are cleaned using a pressure washer. They are put in a 100ct box, and shipped to market. Thats it!

Of course I couldn't come here and not eat oysters, despite my reservations. I slurped down the first one. Gah. Slippery, semi-mushy..UGH.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip062.jpg

"Bubba" continued to schuck oysters for our group. Thanks Bubba...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip061.jpg


The owner of the farm had the grill fired up. He was trying out a new recipe for us. He cooked the oysters on the grill. They were topped with a mixture he created. It consisted of romano cheese, olive oil, basil, and butter. Hmmmm...


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip075.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip073.jpg



We kicked it up another notch by topping them with crab meat from earlier in the day, AND we added Siracha hot sauce. As much as I hate to admit it....this [shiz] was GOOD! I ate like 6 or 7 of them this way.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip078.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip077.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip065.jpg


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/lmajette/Field%20Trip/trip058.jpg

This was an OUTSTANDING excursion. I gained a new appreciation to all the effort these two companies put into flooding the market with the freshest seafood product. The care and attention to detail was astounding. I am thankful to have been presented this opportunity. I met a lot of great people, and I learned a lot today!

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Seaweed
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« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2012, 08:20:34 PM »

Wow, thanks for the fantastic coverage of your tours, MM.  The pics and your video are excellent.  I'd say better than the Dirty Jobs episode when Mike Rowe visited Clayton's himself  Wink   thumbsup thumbsup thumbsup
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« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2012, 09:45:25 PM »

Great " report" sounds like u had a blast!!!
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« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2012, 09:51:22 PM »

Was that the famous "hurricane hazel" she's the fastest picker in the east. Man, i would of loved to have had that opportunity. Thanks for sharing!!
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« Reply #15 on: October 09, 2012, 10:39:00 PM »

Awesome photos.    Thanks for sharing this.
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« Reply #16 on: October 09, 2012, 10:48:40 PM »



Nice Report  thumbsup thumbsup thumbsup


Ron

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« Reply #17 on: October 10, 2012, 06:21:40 AM »

Sounds like a great trip! Thanks for the report and pics!
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Grizzly36
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« Reply #18 on: October 10, 2012, 07:55:00 AM »

Man that would be awesome to tour. Thanks for putting in the extra effort and taking the pics and giving your thoughts.  it was like being there myself. 

I bet those grilled oysters were good. Thats how i'd like to try them.  I'll probably break down and buy some to do I just wish i could catch them myself.
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« Reply #19 on: October 10, 2012, 08:37:58 AM »

Nice to see Jack Brooks going out of his way to give tours of his company, JM Clayton.

I hope in the future, DNR is more diligent in spending my money on people in the restaurant and food industry.

That is supposed to be the main purpose of this program.

Metroman

The above is not meant to be against you.


But my user group has been presented with a projected 2.6 million dollar shortfall of funds in 2013 and told we must make it up out of our pockets or face cut backs.

This program was supposed to be used to get restaurants and food service people to use more of Maryland seafood. It's obvious that DNR doesn't know what the h*ll they are doing and spends commercial license money, recklessly.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2012, 08:42:19 AM by reds » Logged

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