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The ormer, Guernsey's own seafood delicacy
Ormerers head out to the beach at low tide in search of the molluscs

Whenever there is an "ormering tide" in Guernsey the coastal car parks are packed as people take to the beach.

For the first four months of the year, on the days around the new and full moons, ormers can be collected for food from the island's beaches.

Richard Tostevin, who has been collecting them for more than 60 years, said: "The enthusiasm for ormering seems to be as strong as ever."

Though he admitted that in recent years have seen stocks decline.

Richard has his own theory as to why the activity of ormering has become so popular again in recent years: "There's a hunter-gatherer in the Guernseyman which is something he's missing probably by working in an office... to go down the beach ormering is so dear to us - special."

Though the times of collecting ormers and the size to be taken has been restricted to try and preserve the island's stocks Richard explained that the number of them has reduced.

He said: "I have a memory of getting 11 dozen ormers off Lihou Island on my 11th birthday... I struggled with that sack full."

Collecting the ormers is of course only half the story and amongst locals there is always debate about how to best prepare the molluscs for eating.

Richard's ormer recipe
1. Remove the ormers from the the shells and beat them
2. Slice them into chip like pieces
3. Roll in flour
4. Fry for two minutes on each side

While some prefer a stew or casserole, others have chosen to pickle ormers but Richard's favourite way of eating them is simply beating them, rolling them in flour then frying them for two minutes on each side.

"Then they are delicious," he said.

He explained that as these days there tended to be less ormers they can be made to go further by using prawns or hard fish and frying pieces of those with ormers as the ormers have a strong flavour that the other fish will take on.

In his years farming ormers Richard had interest in them from all over the world including a visit from Japan to taste them!

Richard Tostevin
Richard has been involved with ormers for more than 60 years

Though it seems ormer stocks remain small, despite the restrictions placed on their collection, Richard remains confident that there will always be enough for the current level of collectors.

He said: "I think it'll continue, I can't see that the species is under threat at the moment."

Richard admitted: "As long as I can walk I'll be out collecting ormers."

'More going ormering' in Guernsey
04 Mar 10 |  Guernsey




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