Wednesday, November 5, 2014
South Carolina Restaurant Growing Their Own Oysters
This article by Rebecca Lurye first appeared in the Hilton Head Island Packet
Wedged between the briny, gray sky and sea about a mile and a half from Hudson's Seafood House on the Docks, a sandbar supports the newest venture of the Hilton Head Island restaurant's general manager.
A few dozen metal cages rest on the sand, each holding a few baskets and thousands of "single select" oysters -- labor-intensive, individual mollusks that feature deeper cups than the clustered varieties for which Beaufort County is known.
Even more cages are hidden under the water of Port Royal Sound, where general manager Andrew Carmines placed them last August.
In a month or two, Carmines will bring in the first harvest from his new farm, the Shell Ring Oyster Co. Although he started small, with about 75,000 oysters for the winter, Carmines and other farmers say there's nearly unlimited demand for bivalves hand-grown in South Carolina's waters. "Oysters are going through a culinary explosion right now," said Doug Hepburn, sales manager of St. Jude Farms in Green Pond.
Bill Cox, a Younges Island mariculture farmer who produces Carmines' seed oysters, said the success comes from a demand for oysters with the deep cup of Gulf varieties and the salty taste of South Carolina water.