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We’ve all thought it is true, but research by N.C. Sea Grant has proven it. Fresh wild-caught shrimp tastes better than frozen farm-raised shrimp. Now is the time. Nothing is better than fresh Brunswick Catch shrimp.
Market price of shrimp usually goes according to size. Counts are not always uniform, but generally jumbo shrimp contain 21-25 per pound; large shrimp 31-40; medium 41-50; and small have 51-60 per pound.
In planning, remember shrimp usually lose one size during shelling and cooking. A general rule of thumb is headless shrimp will yield about three-quarters of their weight after peeling and cooking.
Smaller shrimp are great for use in casseroles, salads and sandwiches. Medium shrimp can be used in soups and some entrees, such as shrimp Creole or shrimp and grits. These are often the shrimp we find steamed or grilled. Use the larger or jumbo shrimp when size really matters.
Whether you’ve purchased seafood that is fresh or frozen, always keep it cold. Never leave perishable items in a hot car unless packed in ice or in a cooler; seafood products must be kept cold to ensure peak quality.
It’s always a good idea to keep your refrigerator temperature between 32-38 degrees and your freezer at 0 degrees or colder. Plan to use your seafood purchases within one to two days, or freeze them. Shrimp turn firm and opaque when cooked. It takes 3-5 minutes to boil or steam one pound of medium-sized shrimp. Take care not to overcook.
Joyce Taylor in “Mariner’s Menu: 30 Years of Fresh Seafood Ideas” has a calculation to determine if it’s more economical to by shrimp with the heads on or off.
She offers this advice: “If heads-on shrimp are below 40-count, divide the price by 0.63. If they are above 40 count, divide by 0.55. For example, if large shrimp with heads on are $5 per pound, divide the $5 by 0.63, which becomes $7.94. If this is less than the market price for headed shrimp of the same size, it is a better buy.”
Shrimp may be peeled before or after cooking. If they are boiled, steamed or pre-cooked for a recipe, they are much more flavorful if cooked in the shells. When cooking shrimp in their shells, first head them. After cooking, peel and devein them. To maintain flavor, do not rinse shrimp after cooking.
Many people ask, “Do I need to take the vein out?” In general, deveining is optional. If the shrimp has been thoroughly cooked, it is not a health hazard. If left in, it may be gritty, especially in larger shrimp. It also looks better when removed when serving dishes like shrimp scampi or shrimp cocktail.
If you want to purchase some of our local shrimp now, while it is plentiful and to save it for later in the year, “So Easy to Preserve” from the University of Georgia has these recommendations:
1. Shrimp can be frozen cooked or raw, in or out of the shell. For the best quality, it is recommended that they be frozen raw, with the heads removed, but with the shells still on. Shrimp may also be frozen covered in water in a freezer container. Be sure to wash and drain the shrimp if frozen uncooked. If cooking first, quickly chill before freezing.
2. Package in freezer containers or bags. Uncooked shrimp will have better quality longer than cooked products.
3. If freezing cooked shrimp, quickly chill before freezing. Package in freezer containers or bags, leaving 1/4-inch headspace; seal and freeze.
According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, the recommended freezer shelf life for shrimp is 3-6 months.
Reference: “Mariner’s Menu 30 years of Fresh Seafood Ideas” by Joyce Taylor, published in 2003 by North Carolina Sea Grant; “So Easy to Preserve” by Cooperative Extension, the University of Georgia, 2006; and the National Center for Home Food Preservation, www.nchfp.uga.edu.
Cheryle Jones Syracuse is a Family and Consumer Science staff member and can be reached at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center, at 253-2610.wick County Center, at 253-2610.