Aw shucks: Oysters in rural Georgia

By Loren Lindler



Aw shucks! If you've ever heard the superstition that raw oysters should only be eaten during months that contain the letter "R," then you know its prime season for these delicacies. With the letter "R" rule, that means oysters can be enjoyed from September to April. Although, some people don't follow this rule to a "T" and continue to eat them during the summer.


Rural Georgia seems to be a happening place for these delicious creatures of the sea, but did you know there's so much more to oysters than what's under the shell?


They're great fried, grilled, steamed, cooked in a stew, or really any way you like, but there's a cool science encompassed in those shells. Oysters can be found right on Georgia's coastline, and are fished both recreationally and commercially.


Oyster beds are often found among Georgia's marshes, and during low tide, the beds can be revealed for human access. Harvesting oysters from beds is just one way to get the job done. Since oysters can also be managed, these farm-grown oysters are raised in mesh bags that sit on the muddy marsh bottom along Georgia's coastline. But, the means of oyster harvesting allow us to have fresh oysters nearly year-round.


When it comes to rural Georgia, these salty treats are commonly harvested in the marshes of McIntosh County. Whether farmed or harvested commercially, McIntosh County seems to be booming with oysters, much like the era of tinned oysters.

In the early 1900s, tinned oysters were all the rage, and Georgia dominated the industry. As the United States grew out of tinned oysters, raw oyster bars became more popular among Americans. Today, oysters are seemingly popular, no matter how you cook them.


But, whether you have fresh oysters or canned, we've got a recipe for you to enjoy while it's still chilly out. As the famous saying goes, the world is your oyster!


Oyster Stew


Ingredients:

  • 3 Tablespoons butter

  • 1/4 onion, small dice

  • 1 stalk celery, small dice

  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • 3 tablespoons flour

  • 1/4 cup white wine

  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco

  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme

  • 3 1/2 cups heavy cream

  • 6 oysters shucked with liquid reserved

  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a medium stockpot, saute onion, celery, and garlic over medium-low heat in butter until soft, about 3 minutes.

  2. Add flour and stir until golden brown. Add wine and reserved oyster liquid and cook for 1 minute.

  3. Add remaining ingredients, except the oysters, and reduce heat to low. Cook soup for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  4. Add oysters and cook for 1 minute. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.