Crabs are not usually measured in traditional units so it can be a little difficult when one is trying to determine the exact amount of crabs to buy for themselves, a crab feast, a party, or whatever they may be planning.
Crabs form a part of underwater cuisine that many people absolutely cannot get enough of. They are prepared and cooked in various ways and they form a key part of a chef’s repertoire. There are a lot of things to consider if you are going crab shopping. Obviously, where you buy the crabs from and the water they’ve come from – whether it is polluted or unpolluted – are the very first things you need to have in mind when crab shopping.
However, if you aren’t too familiar with seafood lingo and specifically, if you don’t know how many crabs there are in a bushel, you might find that crab shopping becomes a little more than you initially signed up for. If you can relate to that, you have come to the right place!
How many crabs are in a bushel?
To answer this question, you first need another question answered: what is a bushel? A bushel is a wooden basket or bucket-shaped instrument to carry crabs. Crabbers make use of bushels to store crabs after they catch them.
Now that you know what a bushel is, we must deal with the harder question of the amount crabs that are in a bushel. Unfortunately, answering this question is a little bit tricky and this is because not all crabs are the same. As the crabs differ in various aspects, the amount of crabs in one bushel changes as well.
A bushel is approximately 8 gallons. The crabs that make up one bushel differ in amount because they differ from each other when it comes to age, gender and the region that they are from. This in turn, leads to a change in the size of the crabs, which ultimately changes the number of crabs in a bushel.
There are approximately 5 to 9 dozen crabs in a bushel which is about 60-108. How may crabs are in a half a bushel? Just divide that! That makes 2.5 to 4.5 dozen crabs in a bushel. It’s usually blue crabs that are measured in bushels and this is because they are too small as compared to Dungeness and Red Rock crabs and therefore cannot be measured individually.
Crab sizes due to Gender and Molt Cycles
In the crab world, the female crabs are referred to as the ‘Sooks’ while the male crabs are called ‘Jimmies’. When it comes to cooking and preparing crabs, it’s the Jimmies that are preferred. The reason Jimmies are given priority over Sooks is because Jimmies are larger in size and therefore contain more crabby goodness. The female crabs then are turned into packaged products.
Another thing that determines the size of the crab is how fat the crab is. The fatter the crab, the more of it to go around. The crab has an exoskeleton (the shell) which offers protection. As the crab grows, the shell cannot grow with it which is why crabs need to shed their shells and then develop new, bigger shells. This process is called molting. Crabs at the end of their molting cycles have more crab meat and are fatter as compared to ones that have not molted as much.
Different Crab Sizes
Crabs come in different sizes. These sizes are small, medium, large, jumbo and colossal. Mature crabs are cooked, and immature ones are not. Especially immature females, which must be put back in the water by law.
A healthy serving of crab meat is approximately 0.23 kilograms of crab meat. One person generally needs 8-12 crabs to satisfy this requirement. Small and mediums sized crabs aren’t usually considered when it comes to cooking them simply because they may be immature and do not have enough meat. However, if small to medium crabs are used, there need to be 6 to 7 dozen in a bushel. Large crabs may be used but there would be too many in a bushel as compared to Jumbo sized crabs.
These are the crabs that are generally spoken of when talking about crabs in a bushel. Jumbo crabs are anywhere between 6 to 6 and a half inches in size. 60-72 of these crabs make up one bushel depending on whether their size is towards the lower or higher end of the 6 and 6 and a half range.
Colossal crabs are quite large and their size is in a range of 6 and a half inches or above. The amount of colossal sized crabs required to make up a bushel is 45-60.
Small crabs: 4 and a half to 5 inches in size
Medium crabs: 5 to 5 and a half inches in size
6-7 dozen small-medium crabs in a bushel
Large crabs: 5 and a half to 6 inches in size
Jumbo crabs: 6 to 6 and a half inches in size, 60-72 crabs in a bushel
Colossal crabs: 6 and a half inches or above in size. 45-60 crabs in a bushel.