Oysters

Southern Cross Sea Farm is now producing oysters. Florida oysters are available year round, but harvest really gears up in fall as water temperatures begin to drop. Fall and winter are the perfect time to enjoy Florida’s famous oysters. The cool months are when oysters taste the best.
Florida’s oyster industry is based on the Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica), which is found from the Yucatan Peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico to the St. Lawrence River in Canada. In the warm, nutrient-rich waters of the bay, oysters grow quickly and can reach market size in less than two years. Southern Cross Sea Farm Oysters
Oysters play a critical role in their ecosystems, filtering and cleaning the water, helping to stabilize the coastline, and providing habitat for fish, shrimp, crabs, and other animals. Oysters feed mainly on single-cell plants. When feeding, a single oyster can pump and filter 25 gallons of water in 24 hours.

In Florida, shell or “cultch” planting -- the placement of processed oyster shell on depleted oyster reefs and suitable bay bottom areas -- is an important resource management tool for maintaining and enhancing productive oyster habitat. Shell plantings provide an excellent base upon which free-swimming oyster larvae can attach and grow.

Fresh oysters are sold live or shucked. Live oysters should have a mild sea-breeze aroma, and their shells should be free of cracks. Live oysters should close tightly when their shells are tapped, and oysters that do not close should be discarded. Live oysters should be stored in the refrigerator at a constant 41 degrees Fahrenheit in a container with the lid slightly open. Excess liquid should be drained daily. Live oysters should be eaten within seven days of purchase and washed thoroughly before cooking.

Fresh-shucked oysters should also have a mild sea-breeze aroma. They can be stored on ice or in the coldest part of the refrigerator for up to five days from the date of purchase. Expect to see a clear or slightly milky, light gray liquid in the container.

Oysters can be steamed, boiled, oven roasted, baked, grilled, or fried. When fully cooked, they become plump and opaque and their edges begin to curl. Oysters are highly nutritious. They are a low-calorie, low-cholesterol source of protein; an exceptional source of zinc, which strengthens the immune system; and a prime source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are linked to reduced risk of heart attack, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and stroke.