Crawfish season technically lasts from November through to July, but this is only in a very exceptional year, with a warm, wet winter.
The standard crawfish season is between spring and summer, with their peak season falling between February and May.
What is crawfish?
Crawfish, also known as crayfish or freshwater crustaceans, are small lobster-like creatures that dwell in freshwater habitats such as rivers, ponds, and swamps.
These crustaceans are popular for their delicious taste and are similar in appearance to their marine relatives, lobsters.
Crawfish come in various colours, ranging from brown to green, becoming bright red when cooked.
There are over 500 species, each having unique characteristics, but they all share traits such as an exoskeleton, a pair of large front claws and a segmented body with multiple small legs.
What month is best to eat crawfish?
Crawfish season typically lasts from November to July, with the availability and quality of crawfish peaking during the warmer months.
As you plan your crawfish boil, consider that the most reliable and enjoyable times to eat crawfish fall between late February and May.
During these spring months (March, April, and May), you’ll find the best-tasting crawfish in various locations, including southern states such as Louisiana and Texas.
The warmer and wetter the winter season, the earlier crawfish season begins, and the better the overall harvest.
Crawfish cuisine and preparation
Crawfish Boil Ingredients
A classic crawfish feast involves boiling live crawfish with a rich blend of spices, vegetables, and sometimes meat.
Here are the key ingredients you’ll need:
- Sack of Crawfish
- Corn on the Cob
- Bay Leaves
- Andouille Sausage (optional)
- Crawfish Boil Seasoning (optional)
Preparing Your Crawfish Boil:
To prepare a crawfish boil, start by filling a large 5-gallon pot half-full with water.
Add the garlic, bay leaves, lemons, and crawfish boil seasoning to the pot.
You may also add other spices, such as salt and additional bay leaves, to enhance the flavour.
Bring the water to a boil over a high heat, then reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes.
Next, stir in the onions, potatoes, corn, and Andouille sausage, if using, and cook for another 15 minutes.
Ensure the crawfish are cleaned properly by rising them under fresh water.
Add them to the pot.
Gently stir in the crawfish, bring the water back to a boil, and let them cook for 3-5 minutes, or until they turn a bright red colour.
When the crawfish are cooked, use a slotted spoon to remove them and the other ingredients from the pot.
Son a large platter or a newspaper-covered table for a more rustic, communal experience.
Now doesn’t that sound tasty…
Crawfish behaviour and habitiat
Crawfish, also known as crayfish or crawdads, are freshwater crustaceans commonly found in slow-moving or still water sources such as streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, swamps, and marshes.
These creatures typically hide under rocks or logs, and they construct burrows when the water temperature is too low for their comfort.
They often burrow into the mud at the bottom of these locations, using their strong claws to dig and create a safe space for shelter and reproduction.
As a vital part of the freshwater ecosystem, crawfish serve as both predators and prey.
They primarily feed on aquatic plants, algae, insects and small fish, contributing to the overall health of the ecosystem by controlling the populations of these species.
Are crawfish good for you?
Yes, crawfish are considered a healthy food to eat.
A serving of crawfish contains around 70 calories and is packed with 14 grams of protein, making them an excellent choice for those looking to maintain or lose weight while still getting a significant amount of nutrients.
In addition to being protein-dense, crawfish also contain essential vitamins and minerals that can be difficult to obtain through other food sources.
For instance, crawfish are a good source of B vitamins, iron, and selenium. These minerals play a crucial role in maintaining strong bones, producing red blood cells, and supporting immune function.
Here are some of the nutritional benefits of crawfish:
- Low in calories
- High in protein
- Low in total fat
- Rich in B vitamins
- Good source of iron and selenium
Keep in mind that crawfish, like most other shellfish, do have slightly higher cholesterol levels.
However, when consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet, they can be a valuable and nutritious addition to your meals.
When enjoying crawfish, try to opt for recipes that use minimal added fat or sodium, as these can counteract some of the health benefits that they offer.
Boiling or steaming crawfish is a healthier option compared to deep frying or heavily seasoning them.
Can you eat crawfish raw?
The simple answer is no; it’s not recommended to eat crawfish raw.
Although some people assume that eating seafood raw can be a delicacy, doing so with crawfish can pose serious health risks.
Firstly, raw crawfish can contain harmful bacteria and parasites that can result in food poisoning or other illnesses.
The most common risk is the consumption of raw shellfish carrying Vibrio bacteria, which can cause severe illness or even death in some cases.
Cooking crawfish thoroughly will significantly reduce these risks, as the heat kills off harmful microorganisms.
Another reason to avoid eating crawfish raw is the texture.
Crawfish have a slightly tough and stringy texture when uncooked, which can be unpleasant to consume.
Cooking them not only improves their taste but also makes the flesh tender and easier to eat.
To enjoy crawfish safely and at their best, it’s essential to cook them properly.
A common way to prepare them is by boiling with spices and seasonings, which enhances their flavour.
Allowing them to cook within 3-5 minutes until they turn bright red ensures that they’re fully cooked and infused with deliciousness.
Do you eat the vein in crawfish?
You might come across a vein in the tail.
The dark vein is essentially the crawfish’s digestive tract and it might cause you to wonder whether it is safe or tasty to consume.
While the appearance of the vein can be off-putting, it is not harmful to eat.
However, if you prefer, you can remove the vein before consuming the tail meat.
This video shows you how:
What do crawfish do at night?
Crawfish are nocturnal creatures, which means they are most active during night-time.
At night, crustaceans forage for food and engage in their daily activities.
Since they are primarily scavengers, they take advantage of the darkness to search for plant and animal matter on the bottom of rivers, ponds, and other freshwater habitats.
To ensure their safety, crawfish make use of their excellent camouflage skills.
By hiding among rocks and vegetation, they can easily avoid predators, such as fish, birds – and you 🙂
Crawfish also engage in territorial battles and mating rituals.
These encounters can result in brief yet intense bouts of wrestling using their powerful claws.
During the day, crawfish prefer to hide in burrows at the bottom of their habitat.
These burrows provide them with a safe and sheltered space to rest and avoid potential threats.
Additionally, female crawfish use these burrows as a safe haven to protect their eggs and young offspring.
Are crayfish and crawfish the same thing?
Yes, crayfish and crawfish refer to the same type of freshwater crustacean.
The terms crayfish, crawfish, and crawdad are used interchangeably by people from different regions to describe this animal.
There is no biological difference between them.
Crayfish are closely related to lobsters and have a similar appearance.
They are members of the superfamilies Astacoidea (Northern Hemisphere) and Parastacoidea (Southern Hemisphere).
With over 500 species, more than half are found in North America.
These crustaceans typically live in fresh water, such as well water, spring water, and conditioned tap water.
They prefer depths of more than 15 centimetres, with the water covering their back.
How do you catch crawfish?
Catching crawfish can be an enjoyable outdoor activity for your friends and family.
First, choose the right time!
Make sure you are hunting for them in season. As above, the best times are usually Late February, through to May.
Find your location.
Crawfish are usually found in freshwater sources like streams, rivers, and lakes.
Prepare your equipment.
To catch crawfish, you’ll need a trap, some bait and some rope. A variety of bait options can be used, such as pieces of fish or an old chicken carcass.
Bait your trap and carefully place in the water.
Tie off your trap to a secure point, such as a tree branch etc.
Now it’s just a case of waiting.
When ready, retrieve your pot, which hopefully now contains some crawfish & empty into a bucket.
You can now re-bait the pot (if necessary) and place back in to hopefully trap some more.
What do crawfish taste like?
Crawfish are often described as a mix between lobster, crab, and shrimp.
Their taste is somewhat sweeter and more tender than their relatives from the ocean.
Do you eat the vein in crawfish?
As with shrimp, you can choose to remove the vein.
It is not harmful, but some diners prefer not to eat it for aesthetic or textural reasons.
Want more; take a look at our foraging articles.