12 Feb Best Food Gifts To Send From South Carolina
Fourteen Culinary Treasures from South Carolina….That Can Be Shipped Directly to Your Door!
Updated For 2021! – We Added A Few New Finds
For overall eats, South Carolina is tough to beat. It has a long, rich, diverse, food culture. It’s home to incredible, artisanal products from aromatic hot sauce to buttery delectable handmade biscuits….a treasure trove of delicious delights. Access to the sea, the bounteous outback of the Piedmont and Upstate, and Charleston’s long history of international trade have contributed to the state’s extraordinary culinary richness.
I have compiled a list of thirteen foods and beverages that have the Palmetto State written all over them. These are products that define and explain the creativity of South Carolina’s crafts people. They are not necessarily the most popular or well-known, but represent a microcosm of small business in the state.
It’s not a complete list and I hope to expand on it at a later date. The products listed are diverse and the listings are in no particular order. Only products that I have personally sampled are discussed, though many of the businesses listed have many more offerings. Be sure to check out their websites. This is one person’s opinion based on extensive travel and copious notes over the last two years.
I have checked or contacted everyone on the list and all are offering some sort of shopping experience. Most are in stores throughout the state. I hope you enjoy the list and never has it been a better time to support small business in South Carolina.
Hilton Head, SC
Hand-crafted, artisanal shortbread produced in the Lowcountry with the same secret ingredients from a family recipe that has been used for generations.
Attention Getter: Traditional Shortbread – A rich, yet light, buttery biscuit. The creamy, buttery aroma fills your nose while the gentle sweetness delights the taste buds.
I’m all for tradition when it tastes this good. Being a big fan of shortbread, I always wished that I had a Scottish granny (shortbread was born in Scotland) but after tasting these delectable treats I can dispense with the grandmother.
Also Tried: Hand-Dipped Chocolate Shortbread – Dipping these irresistibly delicious delicacies in Belgium chocolate is the height of gourmet decadence.
Lemon-Infused Shortbread – The sweet buttery aroma combined with the infused lemon oil leads to a beautifully balanced flavor that melts in your mouth.
Personal Choice: Crumble some Traditional Shortbread, then toss lightly in butter and toast – add some chopped pecans or walnuts while toasting and sprinkle over your favorite frozen dairy desserts. You will thank me.
Bonus: Crumble some Lemon-Infused Shortbread over vanilla ice cream and you will understand what yin and yang is all about.
Did You Know? The term “short” refers to the crumbly texture from the large quantity of butter. Butter was a luxury item and so shortbread was enjoyed only on special occasions and, of course, by the nobles and royals. The more refined version of shortbread as we know it today is attributed to Scotland and in particular to Mary, Queen of Scots, in the 16th century. She was fond of a thin shortbread baked in a large circle and then cut in triangular segments. In her day the shortbread was commonly flavored with caraway seeds.
In Scotland, it was traditional to break a decorated shortbread cake over the head of a new bride on the entrance of her new house.
35 Hunter Road
Hilton Head, SC 29926
Big T Coastal Provisions
Mount Pleasant, SC
Family recipe company producing 100% real crab and shrimp dips. Real seafood from real coastal people.
Attention Getter: Crab dip. Not your typical store bought. Filled with chunky wild caught blue crab claws complemented by a blend of cheddar and cream cheese, lemon juice and spices.
Also Tried: Shrimp Dip. Same high quality as the crab dip.
Personal Choice: The addition of the crab dip to your macaroni salad will bring it to a totally new level. I also like to use the crab dip between two slices of sourdough bread painted with butter and placed in a panini press. If you don’t have a press, you can use a skillet and spatula and prepare like a grilled cheese sandwich.
Did You Know? The scientific name for the blue crab is Callineches Sapidus which means Beautiful Savoy Swimmer. Awendaw and Little River South Carolina both have Blue Crab festivals.
BIG T COASTAL PROVISIONS
1440 Ben Sawyer Blvd. # 1101
Mt Pleasant, S.C.
Quality ingredients, balanced flavors, handcrafted with a time honored tradition.
Sauces that enhance the flavor of foods not mask them. Uses French white wine vinegar not the usual distilled, cold pressed and cold filled to retain flavors. Smoky flavors found in the wooden barrels – Chef inspired.
Attention Getter: Original Hot Sauce – sweet, mild Fresno peppers, French white wine vinegar, filtered water, cold pressed and aged in bourbon oak barrels to create a complex balanced sauce.
Also Tried: Verde Hot Sauce – zesty serrano peppers, cilantro, fennel, onion, white wine vinegar, filtered water with a bit of a bite.
Hot Hot Honey – 100% pure raw Georgia honey infused with habanero peppers, apple cider, white wine vinegar, filtered water. A little beyond hot with a floral aroma.
Personal choice: Mix some Original Hot Sauce with your ketchup to create a unique taste. Stir it into your mayo when making tuna salad. Verde hot sauce goes well in collard greens.
Here is my favorite: Use as much bacon as you want. Rub with black pepper, brown sugar and paprika. Then pour some Hot Hot Honey on both sides. Place in a 350 degree oven for 10 min. Flip, then another 10 mins. Do not worry as to amounts.
This might become your favorite bacon recipe!
Bonus: For a special treat use the pepper coated hickory smoked bacon from 4 Oaks Farm in Lexington, S.C.
Did You Know? Most midshipmen at the Naval Academy use hot sauce on their breakfast eggs. As an undergraduate, I competed against Navy in cross county and track many times in Annapolis. We always stayed on campus and ate in the mess hall. That was when I was introduced to hot sauce on eggs….a cultural revolution for a northerner! Years later, I was back for a conference and nothing had changed.
Greenwood, South Carolina
Bulls Bay Saltworks
Salt crystallized from pristine Bulls Bay by solar evaporation, harvested by hand, sifted and packaged.
This is the Papa Bear of sea salt with diamond size crystals. Salt harvested from sustainable sources of sun, seaweed, ocean and patience. Not your everyday table salt mined from the ground and treated with anti-caking agents and bleach.
Attention Getter: Bourbon Barrel Smoked Flakes. Beautiful dark salt crystals with a smoky wood fire goodness and a mellow bourbon barrel finish.
Also Tried: Carolina Flake – your everyday salt.
Red Marsh Sea Salt – A collaboration with Red Clay Hot Sauce blending their pepper mash with Bulls Bay Sea Salt to produce a flavorful, mellow heat.
Personal Choice: Bourbon Barrel Smoked Flakes on a steak or cheeseburger. Sprinkle
some into your Imperial Stout and you will be in for a surprise. Throw some Red Marsh on your grilled brussel Sprouts.
Bonus: Want a tasty, crunchy, salty confection? Whip up some Salted Honey and Chocolate Bark using Carolina Flake. Check out my favorite recipe here: Chocolate Bark
And an added bonus: The Bourbon Barrel Flakes are a collaboration with Bitter Milk of Charleston. Check out their Charred Grapefruit Tonic using Bulls Bay Salt and you might never buy Schweppes.
Did You Know? Bulls Bay Saltworks is the first operational salt company in South Carolina since the Civil War when the Union forces destroyed the last saltern at Palmetto Point, Bulls Island, in 1865.
BULLS BAY SALTWORKS
Lowcountry Kettle Potato Chips
A handcrafted, work-intensive potato chip company cooking in pre-industrial kettle fashion.
Cooked in small batches and hand stirred….not your normal conveyor belt potato chip.
Attention Getter: State Fair Fried Pickles Potato Chips. Not your standard dill pickle chip. This delicious chip ups the ante by using buttermilk celery seeds, brown sugar and smoked paprika.
Also Tried: Mustard BBQ potato chips. Sweet honey mustard offset by tangy apple cider and a dash of red pepper flakes makes for a satisfying taste. Spicy Pimento Cheese potato chips. Mix of different cheeses with pimento chilies and a cayenne kick.
Personal Choice: Crunch up some Mustard BBQ chips into small fragments then coat strips of chicken. Fry or bake until brown and crispy. My own version of chicken fingers. Here is a recipe I tried using the Spicy Pimento Cheese chips to make zucchini sticks, a great finger food for a party or barbecue. Just replace the chips in the recipe with the spicy pimento cheese chips.
Did You Know: Low Country Kettle has a chip called the Carolina Reaper which uses the world’s hottest chilli pepper (grown in Rock Hill, S.C.) This pepper comes in at a whopping 1.67 million Scoville heat units. The Scoville heat unit is a method of qualifying a substance spiciness or “heat” through determining the chemicals responsible for the sensation.
As a point of reference here are some heat units :
- Tabasco Sauce 2,500
- Jalapenos 5,000
- Cayenne 40,000
- Habanero 500,000
A family farm using high quality, 100% natural, fresh ingredients to produce sauces, ketchups, jams, salsa and pimento cheese spread.
Attention Getter: Hampton Acres Pimento Cheese Spread. Known as the “caviar of the South.” Ideal pimento cheese spread….effortlessly spreadable yet a bit chunky. A family recipe made fresh every week by hand at the farm. Uses quality Wisconsin sharp cheddar.
Also Tried: All natural Hot Chow Chow: a combination of cabbage, pure cane sugar, peppers, onions, vinegar, jalapenos, salt and spices. Bright and tangy. Carolina crack: an addictive fusion of honey, vinegar, tomato paste, molasses, egg yolk, mustard seed, lemon juice, salt, garlic onion. How does the DEA let this get on the market? All National Mild Okra: a blend of fresh okra, water, vinegar, salt and turmeric. A natural addition to any sandwich.
Personal Choice: Here is a personal “Dagwood” sandwich – Fry some Carolina Pride (Greenwood) smoked sausages with some green bell peppers, onions, and Hampton Acres mild okra. Just before finishing, slather the whole concoction with Carolina Crack – stir in well. On a large roll coated inside with mayo, stuff your sandwich with the cooked mixture.
Bonus: How about pimento cheese Quesadillas? Take a few tortillas and top each with Hampton Acres pimento cheese. Top each tortilla with another tortilla. Cook the tortillas in a skillet with vegetable oil until golden brown and crisp. Serve with all natural Hot Chow Chow.
Another Bonus: Also, Hot Chow Chow on top of a western omelette is something not to be missed.
Did You Know? Pimentos stuffed in olives happened sometimes in the 1700’s in France and the pimento might have been used to cut the bitterness of the olive. Until the 1960’s this was done by hand, a very time consuming process. Today the process is mechanized but not in all cases. High end olives are still stuffed by the labor-intensive hand method.
266 Scott Lane
Producing all natural gluten free herbal jams and simple syrups.
Locally sourced fruits and vegetables and the freshest herbs from a home garden. No preservatives.
Attention Getter: Strawberry + Basil jam and Strawberry + Basil simple syrup. You’ll want to smear the jam on everything from Camembert and crackers to biscuits in the morning. You’ll be pouring the syrup on ice-cream, sorberts and mixing up some refreshing cocktails.
Also Tried: Fig Sweet Onion + Rosemary Jam: a tantalizing combination that works well with all kinds of cheeses, especially brie and goat cheese. Put some on crusty french bread. Use in a glaze with cloves and brown sugar on baked ham. Peach + Mint Jam: works well on ice cream, but I especially like it mixed with oil and vinegar in a salad.
Personal choice: I really enjoyed this recipe of pecan crusted chicken using Sallie’s Peach + Mint jam.
Bonus: Here is a quick cocktail idea
- 2 oz your favorite Tequila
- 1 ½ oz Strawberry + Basil simple syrup
- 1 oz lime juice
Place in a shaker with crushed ice, shake, strain in a rimmed cocktail glass. I like to use Bulls Bay Carolina Flake around the glass.
Did You Know? Figs are native to the Mediterranean but grow very well in South Carolina.
164 Haizler Circle
CALLIE’S HOT LITTLE BISCUIT
A company practicing one of the South’s oldest artforms: the quintessential southern biscuit.
Attention Getter: Buttermilk biscuits. Most would be hard pressed to think of a better biscuit. Handmade with impeccable ingredients. Hint of cream cheese with its richness and tang put these delectables at the head of the class.
Also Tried: Bourbon Maple Biscuits – collaboration with Louisville-based Pappy and Company using their barrel aged, pure maple syrup. A real treat. Cheese and Chive Biscuits – sharp cheddar and fresh chives. Great aroma. Stick some Sallie’s Greatest Fig + Sweet Onion inside and you will be in taste heaven. Country Ham Biscuits – artisanal Virginia country ham, hand-whipped Dijon mustard and a cheddar biscuit. Could not ask for more.
Personal Choice: These are all stand alone gems….I’m going to be quiet here and let you figure out what you might want to do. Made with White Lily Flour, butter, cream cheese and Hickory Hill milk (Edgefield, SC) All hand made, no machines ever. Family recipe.
Did You Know? Biscuit literally means “twice cooked” because they were originally cooked in a two fold process, first baked and then dried in a slow oven. Think biscotti: dry, crunchy, dipping in a beverage. But that was Europe. In North America, though, retaining the name, the biscuit has evolved into a single-baked, soft, quick, fluffy bread.
CALLIE’S HOT LITTLE BISCUIT
47 6 ½ King St
IRON BREW COFFEE
Iron Brew is a gourmet, single-origin coffee roaster with many coffee options including regular coffee, flavored coffees and decaffeinated coffee.
All of their beans come from the Cerrado region of Brazil, an area of humid summers and mild dry winters that are perfect for producing quality coffee beans. All the beans are roasted in a cast iron drum roaster (thus the name) which locks in the flavor of these gourmet beans. Many roasters use stainless steel, but for me this can lead to a metallic taste, which I have never experienced with an Iron Brew coffee.
Attention Getter: Iron Brew French Roast Coffee: a bold, intensely flavored, 100% arabic bean coffee. It’s slightly sweet with hints of chocolate due to the dark roast. There is a slight pleasant acidity. As their website states that this is not a coffee for the timid.
Also Tried: Carolina Classic: a nice, medium-body taste: not light but far from dark. The lighter roast gives a slight taste of caramel. Cerrado Gold: a middle ground between the French Roast and the Classic.
Personal Choice: I have had a great success using a simple french press to brew the French Roast and found that if you have an espresso maker the Cerrado Gold makes a superb demitasse.
Did You Know? Arabica beans originated in the highlands of Ethiopia. The Oroma tribe crushed the beans and mixed them with fat to be eaten as a stimulant. In the 17th century, the beans went from Ethiopia to Arabia. Once there, coffee, as we know it, was born as a brewed beverage. Arab scholars said it helped to prolong their work hours.
IRON BREW COFFEE
1120 Northpoint Blvd
SPLIT CREEK FARM
Split Creek Farm, located in the scenic foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains, is a commercial, grade A, goat dairy.
It produces award winning, artisan cheeses, goat milk fudge and drinkable yogurt. Most of the world’s population drinks goat milk. It has less cholesterol and higher calcium, phosphorus and vitamins A and B than cows milk.
Attention Getter: Cheese Balls: made from Fromage Blanc (a spreadable goat cheese) flavored with raspberry or apricot and coated with almond or pecans. When you are looking for something different this makes a great snack. They freeze wonderfully so you can always have some on hand.
Also Tried: Feta Marinated in Oil: feta cheese is a tangy, salty, crumbly cheese and it’s highlighted here with sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, herbs, olive oil and canola oil. Also offered is a cubed feta layered in oil with chopped sun-dried tomatoes and a choice of black olives or green olives or no olives. The green olive combo is especially tasty and makes a great light lunch with a piece of crusty bread. Dry Wrap Feta: this is a handy pantry item and can be used in so many different and delicious ways.
Personal Choice: Split Farm’s dry wrap feta is a versatile cheese. Sprinkle it on mashed or baked potatoes on a margherita pizza (add green olives and artichokes) Pair it with watermelon or cantaloupe for a dancing taste of sweet and tangy.
Did You Know? Split Farms goat herd is almost entirely Nubian. This breed was developed in 19th century England by cross breeding British goats with imported lop-eared goats from India, the Middle East and North Africa. They are bright and exceptionally friendly animals. Although they do not produce as much milk as other dairy breeds, what they do produce is higher in butterfat and more flavorful.
SPLIT CREEK FARM
3806 Centerville Road
O & O Hooch
Sullivan Island, SC
O & O Hooch: a limeade flavored, carbonated mixer made with real sugar, real limes, soda water and some secrets.
Attention Getter: Carbonation is controlled so that you do not get a bubble rush of seltzer. Effervescent and thirst quenching with a sweet sour taste. Mixes well with any spirit. A mixer born almost 20 years ago, made in gallon jugs, tied to a raft floating down the Chattahoochee River (thus the name) in Atlanta, kept cold by the water and drank until both mixer and spirits ran out. Eureka moment: a suggestion to take it commercial because it’s so good. The rest is history. Sold in 12 oz slim cans, assorted packs and 1 liter bottles.
Also Tried: Outside of some gear and swag, the Hooch is it. And that’s all you need.
Personal Choice: Let me count the ways! You will never go wrong mixing the Hooch with vodka, gin, tequila, rum and even champagne (but please, no vintage bubbly….that would be overkill). Throw some gin, lime juice, Hooch, soda water and Sallie’s Greatest Strawberry + Basil syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake, pour, enjoy. Also, Makers Mark bourbon, Hooch,Sallie’s Peach + Mint syrup over ice is another winner.
Did You Know? The Chattahoochee River begins in the southeast corner of Union County Georgia and flows through metro Atlanta before terminating 434 miles later in Lake Seminole on the Georgia/Florida border. Many people have drowned or disappeared in the river and many legends have arisen. One of the most popular is that the river is home to Tie Snakes, venomous serpents that snatch people from the shores or within the water. Though locals put some credence in the stories, there has never been a Tie Snake sighting.
O & O Hooch
Sullivan Island, SC
ROGERS BROTHERS FARM
Family owned, family grown, family processed, and family packaged. South Carolina’s only roasted peanut facility and a South Carolina certified local product.
Packaged under the proprietor’s grandfather’s name, R.P. Gillespie.
Attention Getter: Gillespie’s Chocolate Covered Peanuts: a decadent, rich, milk chocolate, lightly salted peanut. Be warned, once you start you might find it hard to stop.
Also Tried: Honey Roasted: not your average honey roasted peanut. Roasted in sweet honey and lightly salted. Honey coating is emulsified to create an ideal crunch. Spicy Sriracha: starts off subtle then a spicy burn sets in and lingers. Lime Margarita: a flavorful, tart experience.
Personal Choice: Place Spicy Sriracha, lemon juice, garlic and chickpeas in a food processor/blender for a new spin on hummus. Mince Lime Margarita peanuts in a food processor then mix with breadcrumbs and a little canola oil, coat chicken or fish and bake.
Did You Know? The average American eats 6 lbs of peanut products a year. Peanut butter was developed in the 1800’s when a St. Louis doctor ground up peanuts to add protein to the diets of his toothless patients.
The oldest Quail farm in the country. Although Bobwhite Quail are the species native to South Carolina, Manchester raises Pharaoh quail, a breed that originated in Asia and Northern Africa.
Pharaoh quails are less susceptible to disease and they adapt more efficiently to a farm environment.
Attention Getter: They have control of the birds their entire lives enabling them to raise a calmer bird. Their quails are 100% natural with no hormones or antibiotics ever. Manchester Farms Quail eggs: move that chicken egg to the side….if you go quail egg you might never go back. Much richer and a more compact taste than chicken eggs. Extra rich, creamy yolk contains 3 to 4 times the nutritional value than chicken eggs. 3 quail eggs equal about one chicken egg.
Also tried: Whole Bone-in Quail: taste this quail and you will think it came from the woods of South Carolina. European Style, Semi-Boneless Quail Marinated: all bones removed except the wing and drummette of the leg. Tumble marinated to tenderize and lock in flavor. Versatile in the kitchen. Quail Egg Scissors: Quail eggs can be hard to crack open but those days are gone with this handy tool.
Personal Suggestion: Pickled quail eggs are something else. Here is a simple recipe to introduce you to this treat. Use these in deviled eggs or hard boiled in salads. Scrambled or fried in butter is a richer tasting healthier breakfast. My ultimate decadent dish, 3 raw quail eggs atop steak tartare. Take a whole quail, season it with onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper. Roll in flour in canola oil and deeply fry in a cast iron skillet. Who needs KFC?
Did You Know? South Carolina is quail country. The number in the wild is not what it used to be, but they’re still plentiful. The native Bobwhite is not conducive for farm raising. They are aggressive and quiet skittish. Just opening a barn door can startle them and cause a significant number to have a heart attack. Can be murderous and cannibalistic. Two is company three is a crowd.
Bonus: The brown spots on a quail eggshell are unique to each hen much like fingerprints are to humans.
BLENHEIM GINGER ALE
The earliest, smallest and maybe the finest independent soda bottling company in the U.S. The sweet hot pride of South Carolina.
Their feisty approach has propelled Blenheim Bottlers from modest regional fame to cult status.
Attention Getter: Old # 3 Hot-Red Cap: a ginger ale like no other. Hot, tantalizing first sip, sweet and bubbly, then the heat creeps up and envelopes the mouth in an intense bite. Though pungent, this drink is not solely defined by heat. By your second sip, your palate will come to life because of a beautiful balance of sweet and heat.
Also Tried: #5 Not as Hot-Gold Cap: a milder version of #3. Being honest, not the same experience. But this is perhaps for the more faint of heart. #9 Diet: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. But I understand that I am not their target market on this one.
Personal Suggestions: Old #3 in a glass by itself. Also try Gosling Black Seal rum, Old #3, and a wedge of lime….you will be with Old John Silver If you want a funky, Dark and Stormy try this Rum & Ginger. Want to save money? Old #3 does wonders with cheap bourbon. Great marinade for pork: limes, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, and Old #3
Did You Know? The ginger ale was created by a doctor named May in Blenheim, SC, who added Jamaican ginger and sugar to the local spring water and dispersed it as a tonic for dyspepsia. In 1903, Dr. May and a partner created Blenheim Bottlers, which chugged along until 1993 when it was acquired by the company that owns the South of the Border amusement complex and relocated there.
Bonus: The listed ingredients tell very little. Does Old #3 contain cayenne? That’s a question for another day.
BLENHEIM GINGER ALE
(Located in South of the Border off interstate 95)
There you have it! Thirteen AMAZING culinary treasures created right here in the heart of South Carolina. All of these items would make fantastic gifts (hostess, wedding, holiday, new home, etc.) or are perfect for delivery right to your own front door to delight your own personal taste buds. There’s no shortage of variety, and you can be sure to please everyone on your list….even the picky ones.