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There's no doubt that Louisiana crawfish are the best in the world if you can afford them. Plus, they're pretty darn important to our economy, but the question remains, can you eat a straight-tail crawfish?

Is it true that you shouldn't eat straight-tail crawfish?

During a normal year in Louisiana, there's nothing better than crawfish caught from the Atchafalaya Basin area. However, there are thousands of acres of crawfish ponds managed by farmers in the Gulf Coast region that provide a seemingly never-ending supply, annually harvesting 100 million pounds or more. That's a lot of crawfish and as always, when something is so far-reaching on a regional level, we've created some myths around it.

For years we've been told we should avoid the crawfish with straight tails and eat only the ones whose tails are curled. The long-held theory for avoiding cooked crawfish with non-curled tails was born out of concern for food safety. It is believed by many that cooked crawfish with straight tails were dead before cooking, hence, it is best to avoid eating them.

Getty Images
Getty Images

Is the myth about straight-tail crawfish true?

Thankfully, researchers at Louisiana State University's Agriculture Center took a closer look. To put the old wives-tale to the test, Ag Center researchers put dead crawfish into a cooler with living ones for five days, then boiled them. The result was somewhat surprising. They discovered that the tails of the dead crawfish when cooked, curled just like the living ones.

The researchers also conclude that in many cases, "some of the straight tails observed at a crawfish boil may be caused by crowding in the pot that upsets the natural process of tail curling during cooking."


So, will you eat straight-tail crawfish in the future?

The Ag Center research concludes, "Therefore, this study suggests that the age-old adage of avoiding straight-tailed crawfish at a crawfish boil, as a means of ensuring safety and quality, may not be reliable and certainly has little to do with the living status of the animal at the time of cooking."

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