Mussels from Zeeland (the Netherlands)

Facts & figures

3-4 fishermen
Neeltje Jans, the Netherlands

Neeltje Jans

Did you know that many "Zeeland" mussels actually come from Ireland, Denmark, and Germany? Often, they're just briefly dipped in the Eastern Scheldt to be labeled as Zeeland mussels. Fortunately, at mussel farm Neeltje Jans, they still cultivate truly Zeeland mussels using both hanging and bottom culture methods!

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Since 2011, mussel fishing in the Netherlands has been MSC certified, which is fantastic. However, for Zeeland mussels, there's another relevant certification: the "Zeker Zeeuws" stamp. This ensures that the mussels come from their own (sea) bed from seed to packaging, that the mussel seed is sustainably cultivated, and that it is then fed with water from the Eastern Scheldt. Eastern Scheldt water is the cleanest and most delicious salty water in the Netherlands, giving Zeeland mussels their unique flavor. The result? Delicious, plump Zeeland mussels!

Aquaculture practices

Fishing for mussels is essentially a combination of wild harvesting and aquaculture. It all begins with the harvesting of mussel seed. Using specialized equipment, young mussels (mussel seed) are harvested from the water. In bottom culture, these seed mussels are then spread out on a cultivation plot on the seabed until they reach maturity and are harvested. In suspended culture, the young mussels are attached to rope-like nets in the water to grow.

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Hang-cultured mussels are often ready for consumption earlier than bottom-cultured mussels. That's why the hanging culture season typically starts in late May or early June, while the bottom-culture season begins in early July. However, in terms of taste and quality, there's no significant difference between them.

Artificial island

Neeltje Jans is an artificial island in the Oosterschelde. During the construction of the Oosterscheldekering, parts for the barrier were fabricated there; now it's the home base of the Neeltje Jans mussel farm. No one lives there, but it can still be quite bustling. You'll also find a theme park with attractions and information about the Delta Works.

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Zeeland mussels are the pride of Zeeland, and rightly so. They are not only rich in good nutrients, but also incredibly tasty. Because mussels are a true seasonal product, it's wise to buy them when they're available. A tip: don't throw away the cooking liquid, it's perfect as a base for sauces or soups.

"At the age of twelve, I already knew I wanted to become a mussel fisherman."

Jacco Schot has been working in the mussel industry for years and knows the trade like the back of his hand. "A good mussel fisherman must have respect for nature and be able to handle setbacks. It takes two years to turn mussel seed into beautiful mussels, so pulling up the first nets of the year is always an exciting moment."

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