Americans love seafood, with shrimp being the undisputed favorite. Shrimp ranks number one in volume among types of seafood consumed in the United States. On average, Americans eat about 4.1 pounds of shrimp per year.
The sustainability and green movements are gaining momentum in the United States, spurring more Americans to take a closer look at their meal choices. Other factors influencing American consumers include food safety and health issues. Although imported shrimp still dominates the American market, the increased cases of contaminants such as melamine and other chemicals in imported foods is leading more buyers to seek out local, wild caught seafood.
Along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, consumers have a wide range of choices for buying American shrimp. Fresh local shrimp are available in some communities at retail seafood markets, farmers markets or other sources. For consumers that are located beyond the range of fresh seafood, high quality frozen shrimp and canned products are available.
A new alternative to consumers is the concept of community supported fisheries (CSF). These programs allow consumers to purchase top quality, wild caught American shrimp at exceptional prices. Most CSF programs work by enrolling a list of individuals (subscribers). Buyers pay a fee in advance for a specified amount of shrimp. When harvests are made, buyers get immediate delivery of shrimp, fresh from the boat.
Several organizations have begun branding or certification of wild caught American shrimp products. These actions help consumers indentify and choose wild caught shrimp. Branding and certification programs apply not only to Southern and Gulf Coast shrimp, but also to Pacific species and cold water shrimp from New England.
American wild shrimp are considered to be among the highest quality shellfish in the world. They have a flavorful, sweet taste and medium to firm texture. The uncooked meat is a pearly white with visible translucent shades of bluish gray. The shells of cooked shrimp turn bright orange while the meat turns snow white.
Shrimp can be peeled and de-veined or cooked in the shell. They are cooked in a variety of ways, including steamed, sauted, grilled, boiled, deep fried and others. Shrimp cooks in just 60-90 seconds at a rapid boil. When the meat turns opaque, itís done. Shrimp also freezes well. Frozen shrimp can be stored in the freezer for up to 12 months.
How to Buy Fresh Local Shrimp
* Shrimp are sold by count per pound.
* A rule of thumb is that 2 pounds of shrimp in their shells will yield about 1 1/4 pounds when peeled.
* Allow about 3/4-1 lb pound headless shrimp in the shell per person; if the shrimp are shelled, figure about 1/3 to 2/3 pound per person.
* Counts are expressed as a range. For example, 10/25 means that 1 pound of product contains 10 to 25 shrimp. The smaller the size, the higher the counts.
* Look for uniformity in size when buying. A good dealer will have shrimp sorted as close as possible to the same size.
* Shrimp sizes are occasionally expressed in names rather than numbers, such as "colossal," "jumbos," and "extra large." These designations are not universally defined or regulated and is open to a wider range of variance than the count system,
* The following is a rough comparison of number of shrimp per pound for each market name:
Colossal or Jumbo - 8 to 10
Large - 10 to 25
Medium - 26 to 40
Small - 41 to 60
* Fresh Southern Atlantic and Gulf Coast shrimp are sometimes sold in mixed sizes or heads on. These can be excellent values depending on the application, price and freshness. Remember that heads on shrimp yield considerable less meat per pound than heads off product.
USA Retail Seafood Markets by Location
Buy Shrimp Online
Community Supported Fishery (CSF) Programs