It’s June and that means that crawfish season is nearing its end, which is sad. But that also means crawfish are larger and more plentiful than the rest of the season, which isn’t sad! Now is a better time than ever to call some buds, drink some beer, and eat some delicious crawdads. But first you’ve got to make sure that you’re getting your hands on quality “select” product – which can be difficult if you’re not familiar with crawfish buying.
Making The Right “Select”ion
You wouldn’t have to travel around south Louisiana long to realize that everyone believes they have the biggest crawfish around. You’d also probably hear the word “select” thrown around a lot (likely a little too much). This isn’t to say that it’s a boisterous claim – there’s a reason that Louisiana produces over 90% of the crop nationally and pulls in a collective $300 million dollars annually from crawfish sales. Louisiana produces the healthiest crawfish commercially available because we treat the mud-lobster with a reverence unrivaled by anyone else in the world.
The dilemma is that there is no universal “select” crawfish size. “Select” simply refers to crawfish which are graded by weight, usually by the pound, which can be different per the supplier. Select crawfish differ from straight-run crawfish, which are ungraded crawfish taken directly from the traps without any grading process, because small, dead, or otherwise unfit crawfish are culled from the sack. Because of this, select crawfish are preferable to straight-run because, regardless of size, you can be assured that you’re getting a healthy product.
How Are Crawfish Graded
Traditionally, select crawfish were graded by hand. Crawfish suppliers would buy straight-run crawfish from crawfish farmers and then pore over hundreds, sometimes thousands, of pounds of mudbugs at a time. Suppliers would look for obvious outliers: crawfish small in size, light in color, or dead – characterized by a stiffened tail that lacked elasticity. Then, once the obvious outliers were culled they would begin weighing crawfish by the handful, and compare it to their determined grade (typically anywhere from 12-20 crawfish per pound). If there were too many crawfish per pound, meaning too many small bugs, they would begin removing the smaller ones until they could hit their mark.
However, Cajuns have come a long way since the days of old. Now, many suppliers use machine graders to cull unfit crawfish. There are a few different machines that are typically used for this process, but the general idea is the same for all of them. Straight run crawfish are poured onto a conveyor belt of rolling pins, where they are sprayed down with water to keep them clean and fresh. As they move along the conveyor belt, smaller crawfish fall through the pins as larger crawfish get pushed along to the end. Then, the crawfish who make it to the end are bagged as select crawfish, while the small ones are bagged as a different grade or boiled and peeled for tails.
Acadia Crawfish’s Grading Method
We believe that a mix of traditional and new grading processes is key to ensuring that our customers are receiving the best possible product that south Louisiana has to offer. Because of this, we grade our crawfish by hand when they are first brought in from the field to determine if they should be classified as straight-run, peeler, or XL selects. Afterwards, we machine grade our hand-picked crawfish to ensure an accurate grading process. On average, our selects are 10-15 per pound – meaning BIG bugs.
Because every supplier has a different definition of “select” crawfish size, it can be difficult to find big, healthy crawfish that are properly graded. It doesn’t have to be this way though – we believe shopping for crawfish should be easy. While every other supplier is telling you they have premium “select” bugs for sale, we deliver genuine select crawfish that are graded twice to ensure accuracy. If you’re tired of playing games with suppliers that make empty promises, head on over to our online store. You can rest easy knowing that we don’t play around when it comes to delivering the best crawfish Acadiana has to offer.