Oysters growing in pluff mud in Mount Pleasant, SC

Who’s ready for oysters?

The oysters are especially good from the waters in the Carolina Lowcountry. Why? Some say it has to do with the salinity of the estuaries in our region. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I do love oysters cooked over an open flame, while cloaked in a soaking wet “croaker sack” — what you might call a burlap bag. Oysters cooked this way, in essence, steam. They are served just as the pop open, leaving them wallowing in their brine. Slurped from the shell or served up on an old-fashioned saltine cracker and graced with just a tad of cocktail sauce, they are to die for.

When September comes, and the temperature of the water falls, oyster harvesting can begin. Only those areas open to recreational harvesting are open to the public. Check out the page Shellfish Grounds: Bulls Bay to Charleston on the SC Department of Natural Resources website to be sure that you know where it is safe and permitted to harvest local oysters. There is even a special web app page where you can see the map overlay on the harvest areas.

If you don’t want to rake your own oysters, you can purchase them at local favorites like Mount Pleasant Seafood.

What exactly is an oyster roast?

Locals use either a simple set up with an iron plate supported by cement blocks over a wood fire and shovel oysters onto the metal or they may use specialized oyster cookers designed for the task. I prefer my oysters roasted over a wood fire, not a gas fire, but I’ll take them any way I can get them.

 

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When the cool fall comes around, folks set up long tables of plywood supported by saw horses. Most times they cut a large hole in the center of the board and under that put a large trash barrel, to sweep the shells into. Did you know: Shells get recycled to build new oyster communities. Soon the cry of “hot oysters” parts guests as the crew totes a bounty to each table. Oyster roast attendees gather ‘round the table as the cooking crew shovels oysters on to the table. They grab the steaming hot oysters with mitts or towels and pries them open with oyster knives. Hosts serve cold beer, saltines, cocktail sauce and lemon wedges to complete the feast. 

Non oyster lovers often nosh out on chili or hotdogs that kind hosts provide for these non-shellfish eating guests.

Attire for an oyster roast is very casual. Most people wear warm clothes like jeans or cords and boots plus jackets, sweaters and hats. Look at the images below and you’ll see a full spectrum of casual wear.

If you like being able to keep the house clean, have fresh seafood and enjoy easy chatting, an oyster roast in your backyard might be just the thing for you in your new home.

Check out these amazing oyster roasts pictured on Instagram. 

 

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Featured photo Photo by  Matthew Essman  on  Unsplash