Field Guide: Oysters



What is it

Alabama happens to be historically the largest Oyster processor in the United States. The Eastern Oyster is the only one that we catch, sell and eat. Plenty of writers and poets have found inspiration over the years in trying to pin down the taste of the Oyster, but Southerners know you just have to taste it for yourself. Warmer waters give our variety a softer consistency and a sweeter flavor compared to their tougher, saltier cousins from the North.

When to get it

Many years ago, a lack of proper refrigeration meant that Oysters were rarely eaten during summer months. They used to say that any month with the letter “r” will bring the thickest, tastier Oysters because of colder water temperatures, but they’re harvested and eaten year round nowadays.

Where does it come from

Many folks will tell you that Oysters grow like weeds along the Gulf Coast. Oysters live on reefs or on piles of old broken shells, and the mixture of the Gulf’s salt water with fresh water from our bays and rivers creates a home where Oysters can thrive. Since the 1880s, Alabama’s harvests have averaged over a million pounds annually making Oysters one of our state’s most valuable natural resources and a priceless provider of jobs and economic benefits.

How it's prepared

Lots of locals prefer their oysters raw with nothing but a saltine and a shake of hot sauce. But Oysters can be prepared and served in many different ways, from steamed and sautéed to scalloped and stuffed. You’ll find them golden fried on po’ boys and in seafood baskets, and if you’re willing to shuck them yourself, a dash of lemon and butter and a ten minute trip to the grill can turn these guys into a real treat.

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