A Low Country Oyster Roast

With oyster roasts at the heart of Low Country culture, we decided to host one of our own to celebrate our first night on a recent trip to Brays Island. We combined tips from locals with our own experience for a night full of laughter and delicious coastal cuisne. Because of the water quality and extreme tides in the area, South Carolina’s meaty, briny oysters have a unique flavor that people can't get enough of. There are multiple famed types of oysters in the region, like Caper’s Blade and Single Lady Oysters. They’re all varieties of Crassotre Virginiacas, aka the Eastern Oyster. After buying a couple bushels in downtown Beaufort we headed to the Brays to start our celebration. Here’s a look at our oyster roast set up some tips for hosting your own.

The Preparation

The great thing about oysters is that they can integrate perfectly into any occasion, whether it's newspapers on a backyard picnic table or a swanky gathering. We decided to keep ours causal and took advantage of the oyster tables and scenic view at the Brays Island boathouse. Here’s what we recommed for having on hand:

  • Local oysters 
  • Oyster knives 
  • Burlap sacks 
  • Gloves 
  • Fire wood 
  • Roasting sheet 
  • Shovel 
  • Accouterments
  • Good company

The Process

After rounding up your local oysters and washing them off in cold water, it's time to get steaming! Build a fire that's a similar size to your roasting sheet, and once the flame has gone down a bit you can place the sheet on top. Allow a few minutes for the sheet to heat up and then you're ready to put down your oysters in a single layer. Place a wet burlap sack on top of the oysters to create the steam. Leave them covered for 8-10 minutes or until they start to open slightly, then they’ll be ready to shovel onto your table. Ideally you'll have a high standing table, making it easy for people to stand around and start shucking! 

Time To Dig In 

Now's the best part! You’ll be eager to dig in, but make sure to put on gloves to protect your hands before you begin shucking. While some may encourage you to take a chance, and appreciate the oysters without too many toppings, it's very common to pair them with accouterments like crackers, cocktail sauce and lemon juice.

Local Legacy

To ensure that this long time tradition lives on for generations, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is working to rebuild the state's oyster reefs. South Carolina oysters are intercoastal, growing between low and high tide lines in clusters referred to as oyster beds. These Eastern Oysters play a critical role in the ecology, economy and culture. To ensure a healthy oyster population, the Department of Natural Resources allows anyone to recycle their oyster shells. There are recycling sites to drop off your shells after a get together, and for larger events the department can provide a trailer or bins for collection. Oyster reefs have many benefits to the area including filtering water, providing a home for various sea life, and absorbing waves to protect the shoreline. If you're local to the area you can volunteer to help bag, shell and rebuild oyster reefs. These efforts keep us connected to the food we eat, and water we live on. 


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