From the Archives: Crawfish for Food not Fish Bait?
Crawfish for Food Not Fishbait
“Most people around Pike County think of going fishing when they think of crawfish. Around here more people use crawfish for fish bait than for food,” said Cyril Newman.
Newman has been working for Shell Oil off the coast of Louisiana for 20 years. In his spare time, he has learned about the ways of the people there.
About three years ago, Cyril and his wife Linda begin experimenting by raising crawfish on their land in Pike county. The crawfish the Newmans are raising are from Louisiana stock and are edible. They are of the species Procambarus clarkii. It is a special hybrid variety especially adapted for pond raising.
Much of the information the Newman’s have gained about crawfish has come from Louisiana State University.
Cyril said, “Louisiana State University studies crawfish much like Auburn studies hogs and cows.”
“To begin the process one needs an area of land that has subsurface water, the ability to drain the area and to flood the area with water. Control of the water level is important.
“The ideal depth for the pond is 28 inches. Ideally a pond site needs to be ready in June in order to stock it. The water is then drained from the pond side in July or August. When the water is drained, the crawfish go into the ground to reproduce. Usually the area is flooded again in September. Be December harvest can begin.
“Traps and seines are used to catch the crawfish,” he continued. During the heat of summer, Newman’s son Evan and his friends enjoy getting gin the mud to seine for crawfish.
According to Evan, “It is a good excuse to get wed and muddy. I don’t mind the squishing of mud between my toes.”
Newman’s wife, Linda, spoke up,”I wear shoes when I have to get in to help pull out the net full of crawfish. I am a county girl and can hale the tractor and take care of the farm when Cyril is away, but I wear shoes when I am in the water.
Linda continued, “My family enjoys boiled crawfish. You simply bring a pot of water, salt, and crab mix to a rolling boil. you drop the live crawfish into the mixture. I let mine boil for six minutes and then sit for about 30 minutes. They are then ready to peel and eat. When peeling them, you can tell the ones that were alive when they hit the boiling water because their tails are curled.
“Another of my family’s favorite recipes is Crawfish Etouffe. You can substitute shrimp for the crawfish in this recipe.”
Last year Linda won the Statewide Farm Bureau Cooking Contest with Crawfish Butter. Cyril claims credit for teaching Linda to cook the Creole style foods their family enjoys.
Newman is excited about crawfish farming in the area. “The marvelous thing about crawfish farming is that you an use land that is not suitable for anything else, land that can be bush-hogged is ideal. All you need is the ability to drain the area as needed and a good fresh water supply.
Newman added, “The crawfish yields 12 to 14 percent of meat while the shrimp yields 60 percent meat. I plan to work with the county again this prion in making more information about crawfish farming available to people in this area.