Shrimp season: How to pick the best shrimp for your table

Shrimp season is finally upon us! Last week the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources announced the opening of shrimp season would be Thursday, June 10. With this announcement, area seafood dealers are anticipating hungry customers making their way to the harbors or retail shops to purchase some of the freshly caught harvest for their dinner tables.

One dealer preparing her Pass Christian dockside shop for the customer rush is Darlene Kimball of Kimball’s Seafood. Darlene is a fourth-generation seafood dealer. Her great-grandmother began the business in 1930. In 2003, Darlene inherited the business from her father, John Kimball. Like the generations before her, Darlene is focused on providing the people of Mississippi wholesome, fresh, and frozen seafood. Darlene knows that people come to her time and time again because she has a good quality product sold with the customer-focused relationship that you get from a locally owned and operated business. When you come to Kimball’s seafood, you are treated not only as a customer but as a friend.

shrimp
Pictured: Darlene Kimball of Kimball’s Seafood in Pass Christian

To give us (the consumers) some insight when purchasing our shrimp this season, Darlene provided a handful of tips on how to choose the best shrimp:

1. What should customers look for when purchasing shrimp?

When purchasing shrimp, customers should first note the smell. You want a salty smell, not a foul fishy smell. Second, notice how the shrimp are stored. Are they adequately iced? Third, note the look of the shrimp. You don’t want to purchase shrimp with a red or black tinge to them. Lastly, take note of the texture of the shrimp. You don’t want shrimp that are soft or slimy to the touch.

2. Where should customers purchase shrimp?

Customers should buy from licensed harvesters or dealers. It is important to purchase from licensed businesses because they are regulated by state and federal agencies to ensure you, the consumer, are getting wholesome products, as well as an accurate weight measurement when purchasing by the pound. Licensed facilities selling shrimp by the pound use scales certified by the Mississippi Department of Agriculture. These certified scales ensure you are getting an accurate weight of your purchased shrimp or seafood.

3. What do you wish consumers knew?

When purchasing shrimp, consumers need to understand the difference in buying a head-on versus a head-off shrimp. If you purchase a head-off shrimp, you are getting more shrimp per pound and the price will reflect that. For instance, if you purchase five pounds of head-on shrimp, you will have roughly 3.25 lbs of shrimp once you remove the heads. Consumers should also understand how shrimp are graded for market. Shrimp are graded and sold to market by how many shrimp there will be per pound. For instance, if you buy a pound of 50/60, those shrimp will be relatively small because you should have 50 to 60 shrimp per pound. If you purchase a pound of 10/15, you should expect 10 to 15 shrimp per pound. The larger the number, the smaller the shrimp.

4. What is your number one piece of advice for the consumer? 

Use the above tips to make an educated purchase and remember that shrimp are not only an extremely versatile protein option for your recipes, but they are also great for your health. According to WebMD, shrimp are a healthy option for anyone wanting to shed pounds because they are packed with nutrients and low in both carbs and calories. If you are looking to create some recipes that are both satisfying and healthy, shrimp is a great protein source.

If you are like me and are looking forward to some creative shrimp recipes, head on down to see Darlene in the east side of the Pass Christian Harbor. Her stock of fresh-caught seafood is changing daily as the seafood rolls across her dock straight from the fishermen who landed it.  For more information on her available seafood, drop in for a visit (regular hours: Mon-Sat. 8-4pm, Sunday 9-2pm) or contact her by phone at 228-209-4446.

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Written by Jessica Rankin

I am a married mother of two rambunctious boys. For over a decade I worked in Marine Resources as a Fisheries Biologist and recently changed career directions to follow my dream of owning my own business. I am now the Owner of The Safe Food Culture LLC a consulting business specializing in food safety regulatory and training. It’s my goal to support businesses in creating cultures rooted in safe food practices. For more information please visit: www.thesafefoodculture.com

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