11 May South Carolina Summer Oysters are Almost Here!
The seasons are getting warmer, the days are stretching long and soon we will be flocking to the beach to relieve ourselves from the heat with a dive in the ocean. As the temperature rises, many of us will be ducking into restaurants for a little air conditioning, an iced tea and a few local oysters on ice.
Wait? Local oysters? Aren’t those only available in the months ending with R? Wouldn’t it be dangerous to eat oysters that grew in such heat?
It’s time to dispel the myth: you can eat South Carolina oysters in the summertime. In fact, DHEC has just recently approved the sale of summer oysters from South Carolina waters.
We understand that some of you might still be a little skeptical. After all, the belief here in the south behind only eating oysters in months that end with R has been around a long time. However, there’s no reason to be worried, and perhaps a glimpse into the logic of DHEC’s decision will ease your fears.
The logic behind not harvesting summer oysters made sense once. In South Carolina, unlike some northern states, are intertidal rather than subtidal. That means that rather than staying under the water all the time, South Carolina oysters are exposed to air when the tide goes out. When that happens, the oyster closes up and essentially becomes an insulated little oyster hot pocket. Good for bacteria, bad for your health.
The other factor in the prohibition of summer is also based on the amount of time oysters spend on the boat. The fear is that fisherman will gather oysters, set them on the deck in the hot sun and go about their other business for a while before getting them to a refrigerator.
However, times have changed! Now that oysters are no longer gathered exclusively from the wild, but are often grown on oyster farms, it is possible to keep them under the water at all times, hugely reducing the risk for bacteria. Also, there are laws in place stating that summer oysters must be picked in the morning, be in mechanical refrigeration by 10 AM and be down to 50 degrees within two hours.
Once we can let go of any fear of eating South Carolina oysters in the summer, we can start to take a look at all the benefits.
Up until now, restaurants and oyster lovers have been getting their oysters from out of state all summer. Now that summer oyster sales have been approved, that’s less transportation, which is good for the environment, and more money and jobs kept in-state, which is good for the economy.
Plus, we get the chance to enjoy a rich, salty and delicious South Carolina oyster all year.
St. Jude Farms isn’t wasting anytime. We are preparing to take care of all your summer oyster and seafood needs. Look for us in your local seafood restaurant!