Perhaps you’re planning on having a large group of friends over for a crab feast. Or maybe you’re getting ready to head out and go crabbing, and the regulations in your state say you can keep up to a bushel of crab. But how much is that? How many crabs fit into a bushel basket? How many people will a bushel of crabs feed?
How Many Crabs Are In A Bushel?
Having grown up on the west coast of the United States, the idea of buying crabs by the bushel, or using a bushel as a limit of crab you can keep was a totally foreign concept to me. But when I found out that measuring crab by the bushel is very common in other parts of the country, I was intrigued.
So how many crabs are in a bushel?
First of all, when we talk about a bushel of crabs, we’re generally referring to blue crabs, which can be found all along the East Coast of the US, from Canada all the way down to parts of the Gulf of Mexico.
Compared to dungeness crab, which are measured individually, blue crab are much smaller and therefore can be easily measured by using the container they’re kept in, like a large bushel basket. As a matter of fact, in many states Fish and Wildlife regulations state that crabbers can keep up to a bushel of crab.
Crab Size, Jimmies and Sooks
But lets go over a little bit of crab lingo first before we get too far. When you go to order a bushel of blue crabs, you’ll quickly learn that each type of crab has its own name. This is how we’re able to differentiate between male and female crabs.
Male vs Female Crab
For example, male crabs are often times referred to as “Jimmies”. While mature female crabs are referred to as “Sooks”.
Like many creatures in the animal kingdom, Jimmies are generally larger than sooks. They’re also heavier and contain more meat. So as you can imagine, Jimmies are more sought after by folks who are looking for whole crab to eat.
At the same time, the sooks are frequently sold to commercial meat processors who pick and package the crab for resale.
And since blue crabs body weight is appoximately 14% meat, you want to make sure you get the big ones…or the Jimmies.
In addition to being given a name based on the gender of the crab, they’re also divided into different categories based on their size, which is the distance across the back of their shell, or carapace. These sizes of blue crab are:
- Small– 4 to 5 inches across
- Medium– 5 to 51/2 inches across
- Large– 5.5 to 6 inches across
- Jumbo– 6 to 6.5 inches across
- Colossal- over 6 inches across
So, How Many Crabs Are In A Bushel?
As you can imagine, the size of the individual crabs plays a major role in how many fit into the bushel basket. If the crabs are small, more will fit inside. If the crabs are colossal, then much fewer will fit.
For an easy and quick reference, take a look at this chart which tells you approximately how many crabs come in a bushel.
How Many Crab In A Bushel
How Many Dozen Crab In A Bushel
8 to 9
7 to 8
6 to 7
5 to 6
Fewer than 5
How Many People Does A Bushel Of Crabs Feed?
According to Bluecrab.info, who are experts on blue crab, when asked how many people a bushel of crabs will feed, they say this:
“Generally speaking, a bushel of Number Ones will hold 60 – 70 crabs depending on how big the crabs are at that time of year. If there are 60 – 70 crabs, they will feed about 10 – 12 people depending upon what else is on the menu. If you have all kinds of food, such as salads, hot dogs, chicken, etc., you’ll probably need half as many crabs. If you serve only steamed crabs, clams, corn and beverages, you’ll need the whole bushel.”
What About Recreational Crabbing?
For those of us that enjoy going out and catching our own crabs, it’s important to know exactly how many we’re allowed to take home. As I mentioned, many states allow crabbers to take home a bushel of crab.
The problem is, bushel baskets can vary in size depending on which state you’re in. And on top of that, how full is full? It always seemed to me that this regulation is left open to interpretation by the fish and wildlife law enforcement agent.
So here’s an excellent rule of thumb to go by if you’re catching crab by the bushel full.
When filling the bushel basket full with crab, always make sure that the lid is able to fit in place without distorting or changing the shape of the basket. People I’ve spoken with have been checked a number of times throughout the years by law enforcement and have never had a problem when following this rule.
The other thing to keep in mind if you’re crabbing for fun in a different state than you’re used to, is to buy or use a bushel basket from that specific state. The actual size of bushel baskets can vary slightly from state to state, so do this just to be safe.
So that’s the best estimate of how many crabs come in a bushel, as well as how many dozen crabs are in a bushel.
Remember, the size of the crab determines the actual number of crabs. And if you’re curious about the number of half dozen crabs in a bushel? Just simply divide the number of dozen crabs in half. Easy peasy!
Have fun…and enjoy that crab feast!