Crystal Coast Oysters is a farm in Morehead City in North Carolina. It grows and sells oysters in the Outer Banks. Its signature oysters are the Fat Bellies. The oysters sell at both wholesale and retail prices. They are harvested fresh and delivered to whoever places their order. The man who started the oyster farm is James Frey.
This species is scientifically known as Crassostrea virginica. They grow to a cocktail size of between 2.5 and 3 inches. They grow on an intertidal sandbar in constantly tumbled bottom cages. They require a lot of work by the farmers. Farmers put a lot of care into the oysters. They cultivate them to produce sweet and salty flavors. The oysters also have some notes of melon and cucumber. This makes them a sustainable protein in the perfect balance.
The flavor profile is as follows;
The oysters cost between $65 and $90. The normal package contains 36 Fat Bellies oysters, in an oyster bag, and delivered by FedEx Express. You can only pick the oysters from what is available. If you make an order when oysters are scarce, you will have to wait for harvesting.
Crystal Coast Oysters LLC was incorporated on May 6, 2019. The company has been in operation for a little over two years now. It is operated by James Frey and his business partner, Phillip Lannon. James Kyle Frey was first registered as an agent at the company. He was later named the owner and president in August of 2020. In January 2021, he was removed as an officer of the company.
James Frey grew up wanting a career in finance. In 2013. He got a job on the docks. He was to help build docks and grow oysters for restaurants. He ended up enjoying the experience a lot. When he went back to college in Raleigh, all he could think about was growing oysters. He finished his college education and set out to follow his new dream.
Frey started a company with Matt, his best friend. They grew Eastern Oysters because the species uses energy to grow all year long. This is unlike other species that use energy to spawn in the summer. For this reason, as other oysters can be harvested at intervals, Eastern Oysters are harvested throughout.
To grow to market size, oysters take about 18 months. They grow in varying sizes and periods. Each week, Matt and James harvest about 4000 oysters.
James and Matt’s routine involves James riding his boat to Matt’s house for coffee. They go over their daily plans and check the tracking app for oysters.
They then head into the water where they get involved in a number of activities, including;
• Maintenance • Cleaning • Sorting • Harvesting
There are almost 450 oyster cages in the water at each time. This may be hard to keep track of at times. Winter months are the hardest since it is the prime growing season. Afterward, they go to the dock to bag and tag the oysters for delivery. As the orders come in, they are packed and placed in the cooler for at least five hours. This is what the food safety regulations state.
The oysters are then cleaned and sorted by hand before they go out to the market. They are sorted according to appearance and size, to ensure the customer gets what they order.
Crystal Coast has partnered with many local companies and restaurants to bring seafood closer to the people. The oysters can be found in;
• Blue Ocean Market • Olde Beaufort Farmers Market
The markets offer delivery services according to region. You have to call to find out where they are delivering next.
Downeast Seafood also helps offer their oysters all over the state.
Crystal Coast works with chefs in North Carolina to create different recipes. Some of the chefs can be found at;
• Full Moon Oyster Bar and Seafood Kitchen • Moonrakers • Tight Lines Pub and Brewing Company
James’ favorite oyster recipe involves grilling them with garlic, chipotle butter, lime juice, and parsley.
The 2021 event is scheduled for 24th November. It will be held at the Big Rock “Jib” Landing site. This is in downtown Morehead City. This will be the fifth annual Crystal Coast Oyster Festival. It starts at 12 pm and ends at 7 pm.
The festival is a fun, family-friendly event to raise awareness of all oysters, wildly caught and farmed. There is live music and local vendors selling crafts, art, and jewelry. Oyster farmers attend the festival and teach preparation, serving, and selling oysters.
The event features oysters prepared in different ways. These include frying, steaming, and eating them raw. Some of the activities at the festival include:
• Raffles • Cook-offs • Oyster competitions sponsored by local businesses
These activities are aimed at raising awareness and generating support for the NC Shellfish Growers Association. This allows the organization to gain prominence in its efforts to secure the future of local seafood.
Crystal Coast Oysters is a farm dedicated to providing the best seafood in North Carolina. James Frey realized his dream when he worked a short time in the water. He never looked back. Together with his best friend, Matt, they have grown the farm greatly. The farm has achieved its goal of providing fresh seafood to the local communities. They work with restaurants to incorporate different recipes.