Bathed in a warm sea of serum, row upon row of miniature bioreactors nurture small morsels of flesh. Twice a day the nutrient rich tide recedes, triggering the muscles to contract and clamp the hinged halves of their bioreactors tightly shut. It this daily cycle that gives in vitro oysters their much-lauded texture.
When the muscle has fully grown, the in vitro oysters are pried from their electrical connections and shipped to lab-food markets and high-end restaurants. Connoisseurs may become adept at picking out the terroir of each lab, from the briny metal overtones of Atlantic serum to the sweeter, more rounded flavor from Pacific facilities. As ocean-based oyster beds have all but vanished, in vitro oysters may prove an exquisite alternative.