Oysters have been a favorite staple for islanders for centuries.
Early Native American harvested oysters, subsisting on the plentiful bivalve populations in Lowcountry waters. At low tide, oysters rise from tidal saltmarsh creeks throughout the area. In fact, Hilton Head’s waters are some of the richest oystering areas along the Atlantic coast, with a number of oyster canning factories once operating throughout the region.
One of the most traditional ways to eat oysters on Hilton Head Island is to steam several bushels in a communal oyster roast.
First, rinse them well to remove any excess dirt or mud. Then, build a fire or start grill under a thin sheet of metal or wire mesh. Dump the oysters over the sheet or mesh and cover them with a wet burlap bag. Soak the bag well with water or even beer. The wet burlap steams them until they pop open, which indicates they are ready to savor.
The hot ones can be shucked with an oyster knife. Dip them in drawn butter or cocktail sauce or simply enjoyed au natural. The briny flavor offers a delicious taste of the Lowcountry. Oysters are one of the most nutritionally well-balanced foods. They contain protein, carbohydrates and lipids. They are also an excellent source of Vitamins A, C and D, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin.