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Posted: Wednesday, 26 February 2014 6:35AM

Study: Straight tail crawfish were not dead and salt doesn't purge them

The LSU AgCenter is trying to clear up some long-held "crawfish myths."  Researchers found salting crawfish before boiling does no good, and the ones that come out with straight tails were not dead before they went in.

Ray McClain, LSU AgCenter crawfish researcher at the Rice Research Station near Crowley says the straight tailed mudbugs were actually more likely to be alive before going into the boiling pot.

"Research at the LSU AgCenter showed that the degree of tail curl in cooked crawfish was not significantly different between crawfish alive at the time they were cooked and those that had been dead... prior to cooking," McClain explained.

So why do some have straight tails when they come out of the boiling pot?  Researchers say it may just be that another crawfish blocked their tail from curling or the mudbug was shoved up against the side of the pot and its tail couldn't curl.

"The results suggest 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 knowing the living status of the animal at the time of cooking,” McClain said.

As for salting the crawfish before boiling them as a means of "purging" or causing the crustaceans to excrete anything inside of them... McClain says it doesn't work.

"Research at the LSU AgCenter has shown that the addition of salt to the wash water provides no significant advantage in cleansing crawfish despite the numerous claims to the contrary," McClain insisted.

He says if you want to purge the crawfish, you have to set them aside with no food for an entire day.

"The only way to significantly reduce size and content of the intestinal tract is with a 12- to 24-hour freshwater purge, which is difficult and impractical for homeowners to do," McClain explained.

He did note that washing crawfish for as little as 10 minutes in water helps remove mud and other debris.

But, he says, "Does little to eliminate intestinal wastes... and salt appears to be of no benefit."

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