what happens if you don't purge crawfish

What happens if you don’t purge crawfish? Those who love crawfish are often found worrying about how to clean them properly.

But, it does not affect its popularity.

Crawfish is a Louisiana specialty and a type of shellfish that comes from the ocean but has the same texture, flavor, and aroma as seafood.

Crawfish are frequently compared to tiny lobsters.

Because of their preference for a muddy environment, these bugs are often commonly referred to as “mudbugs” in the South.

And that is why many people ask, “Do you have to purge crawfish?”

Not purging crawfish means exposing yourself to all the dirt and grass stuck in them, which spoils the taste and increases the risk of possible health issues. 

What Happens If You Don’t Purge Crawfish before Cooking?

Backyard crawfish boil continues to be among the most popular Southern American foods that you just have to try for yourself to fully appreciate.

what happens purging crawfish

But, if you want to try it at home, you should consider purging it first.

What happens if you skip purging and washing?

Well, technically, the risk of developing an infection is very low. But, not purging will definitely make your crawfish a bit less palatable.

What Does Purge Crawfish Mean?

Before putting live crawfish in water to boil, it is recommended that they are “purged,” or cleaned thoroughly.

So, “purging” is simply a fancy word for “cleaning” the crawfish before you cook them.

Fact: The worms are common in Crawfish but pose no health risk, but still purging is essential to get rid of them.

Why Is It Important to Purge Crawfish?

why is it important to purge

Crawfish are a type of crustacean that may be grown in mud and fed a wide variety of organic matter found in freshwater ponds.

As a result, they are ideal small cleaners for your fish tank, but you will have to be careful not to eat the dirt when you catch them for human consumption.

Before you prepare crawfish, you should give them a good purge.

It is essential to get rid of all the debris, including dirt and grass, that has accumulated in their digestive systems.

The crawfish taste much better if you go through the trouble of purging them, which requires a lot of water and checks to see whether any have perished. 

Does Purging Crawfish Make it Healthy for Everyone?

Yes, it does.

A healthy diet should include a variety of foods, and crawfish are just perfect.

But do not forget to purge it to avoid any risk of possible infections.

fresh raw crawfish

They provide you with a variety of iron, B vitamins, and selenium, all of which can be difficult to obtain through diet alone.

Crawfish’s only negative is that they are a source of dietary cholesterol. But as a whole, they are a healthy source of protein. 

What Happens If You Eat Crawfish During Pregnancy?

If you are a fan of crawfish, you can eat the delicious crustacean without worrying about harming your baby. 

To be on the safe side though, you should purge it first to get rid of any dirt and grass

The average amount of mercury in a serving of crawfish is quite low, at about 0.033 ppm.  

Therefore, eating at any time during pregnancy is safe if they are cooked properly, and it does not lead to any morning sickness.

Fact: Crawfish tend to be meatier and have a complex taste that combines the sweet, salty and mineral notes typical of both shrimp and crab. 
how to purge crawfish right

How Do You Purge Crawfish in the Right Way?

Louisiana is home to a thriving crawfish industry, and the state’s residents enjoy the crustaceans as part of the state’s signature southern cuisine, known as Cajun.

Purging is cleaning crawfish before cooking, which is necessary or else the meat becomes hard after boiling.

Crayfish are made more edible through this process, which involves cleaning the crayfish’s digestive tract. 

Purge or Not to Purge?

There is a lot of confusion regarding the use of crawfish because to purge or not to purge is still not getting the right answer.

Some people think there is no point in purging or washing crawfish. But, others advise strongly against it. 

They usually do one of three things:

  • They purge crawfish in saltwater
  • They purge crawfish in freshwater
  • They make use of commercial purging
purge fresh crawfish

You may already be familiar with saltwater and freshwater purging, but commercial purging may be new.

Commercial purging refers to a water bath that usually lasts from 12 to 24 hours.

Does the Purging Method Make a Difference?

Turns out, it does.

Experts believe that purging crawfish for as little as 10 minutes is still better than not purging at all. It always helps with a much cleaner boil.

Using the water to remove sticks, grime, crawfish bait, etc. is a no-brainer.

Can you picture how filthy the boiling water would be if you did not at least hose down the crawfish first?

boiling crawfish in pot

In fact, research shows the weight of the intestinal content was reduced by 17–26% after being immersed in water for 10 minutes, regardless of whether the water was salted. 

Should You Stick to Salt Water When Purging Crawfish?

Experts think it does not make a huge difference if you use salted water or not. But, at the same time, they recommend using salt water.

In fact, studies reveal that purging with salt has such a negligible effect that it is moot. 

But, again, it is better than not using it if you really rely on this way of purging. 

Try the Other Alternative

Purging crawfish in an industrial setting for 12 hours or more is the only known approach to considerably reduce the amount of the hindgut in cooked crawfish.

At least that is what experts believe!

cooked crawfish boil

Keeping that in mind, you will understand why using salt may not be the best choice. 

After all, you are going to kill crawfish if you expose them to salted water for a time longer than 12 hours.

Fact: Claws, legs, tails, roe, tomalley, and the outer shell are all edible portions of crawfish, but most of the meat is in the crawfish's tail, legs and claws. 

How Do You Use Salt to Purge Crawfish Properly?

For a home boil, you have no other choice but to go with saltwater.

how to use salt purging crawfish

So, how do you do it? Here is how!

  1. Get the ice chest and put the live crawfish in it with the drain closed.
  2. Fill it until the water level is slightly above the crawfish.
  3. Season the crawfish with the equivalent of half a 26-ounce box of salt.
  4. Use a paddle to gently mix the salt and water into the crawfish.
  5. Empty the ice chest’s water after waiting for 5-10 minutes.
  6. Restock the water supply in the chest.
  7. Toss the crawfish with the remaining half of the box of salt and mix.
  8. Be sure to find any dead crawfish floating to the top and discard them. 
  9. Wait for another 5-10 minutes and then drain the water once again.
  10. Rinse the crawfish thoroughly. 

How Long Is Enough to Purge Crawfish?

how long is enough to purge crawfish

Once you have your crawfish, buckets, and cleaning supplies prepared, you may be wondering how long it takes to wash them properly.

Well, you should know it before you get a sack of crawfish and reach for a hose to begin cleaning.

Fact: As with lobster, boiling and steaming are common preparation methods, but broiling, pan searing, grilling, and baking are also viable alternatives.   

When Should You Stop?

You can tell when the crawfish are purged successfully because the water used to do so will become clear.

The crawfish will be flushed out in a simple bucket as soon as you add water.

But the water will remain clear even after a few minutes with something more complex.

boiling water in pot

Remember that crawfish are not cooked after they have already died.

In fact, it is essential that they still be alive during the purging process.

You should not eat any crawfish that have died during this time, so if you see any floating to the surface, remove them. 


So, now you know what happens if you don’t purge crawfish, right?

Crawfish need to be purged to eliminate the last things they ate, typically mud and grass.

These contaminants may not be harmful after thorough cooking, but they will significantly alter the crawfish’s flavor.

They are typically rather sour and unpleasant to the taste even after being doused in a mountain of sauce.

Just be sure to follow the right purging method to get the best results.