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Crustacean math

The results of shelling 3 pounds of crawfish:

The results of shelling 3 pounds of crawfish: about 9 ounces of meat. (June 22, 2011) Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus

Earlier this week I found myself in a restaurant with three pounds of crawfish. By the time they showed up we were all pretty full and so, after consuming four or five, we had them packed to go. The next morning I set about shelling the crustaceans and, almost an hour and a half later, I had a little short of eight ounces of meat. That’s right, the crawfish yielded about 15 percent meat by weight. Since those eight ounces took me 90 minutes, my shelling rate was .09 ounces per minute. Also my fingers were bleeding (and stinging from the spicy seasoning).

Last night, in preparation for an upcoming lobster story, I consumed two 1¼ pounders in under 40 minutes. Hard shell lobsters yield about 25 percent meat and my rate was .25 ounces per minute.

So, lobster yields 60 percent more meat than crawfish, and I was able to shell the lobster nearly three times more quickly.

I have to wonder why anyone eats crawfish—especially when there’s lobster around. I’d rather attend a quilting bee.

Crawfish meat, left; crawfish shells, right. The results of 90 minutes of work …

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