Oysters in the Apalachicola Bay

You can’t help but notice the clusters of oyster boats as you drive across the Apalachicola Bay toward St. George Island.

The distinct silhouettes of oystermen scraping the bay in a scissor-like motion — back and forth, back and forth — is a trademark of this region. On the last tug, the oyster rake emerges from the water and the opening of the claws drops the oysters to the deck.

One man sits near the clusters of oyster at the bow. His taps can be heard from the old St. George Island Bridge as he measure out the keepers for the burlap sacks and tosses the rest back to the bay.

It doesn’t get much fresher than this.

And to give you an idea of how important seafood is to the Apalachicola Bay, nearly 90 percent of Florida’s oysters and 10 percent of the nation’s come from this county.

So how could we come to Oysterville and not enjoy the local delicacy?

They make it really easy, too. Most restaurants have steamed oysters on the menu year-round. One, Boss Oyster in Apalachicola, has its own oyster boat and guarantees the freshest in town.

On St. George Island, Harry A’s serves them up steamed and like many other restaurants has its own collection of cooked oysters with toppings like bacon, jalapeno, cheddar or parmesan and garlic.

If you prefer to prepare your own food, there are many places to find fresh seafood. Some fishing companies have their own shops in Apalachicola. But you don’t have to go that far off the island. The neighborhood grocers have some on hand and there are trucks parked near the welcome center selling fresh shellfish in the afternoon. One person we met had the name of an oysterman who delivers to your home.

Staying in a vacation rental, we had access to an excellent kitchen with more appliances than we have at home. We enjoyed the seafood steamed and with pasta as we tried recipes from friends we’d made.