HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

Discussion

surprising yield - shrimp peeled to unpeeled

is it normal to yield only 50% yield from peeled to unpeeled shrimp? it's a bit of a depressing shocker that my 1 lb of unpeeled shrimp is only 1/2 lb peeled...

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Shocking as it may seem, that's just about right. You should expect 1 pound of raw shrimp in their shells = about 1/2 pound peeled and cooked shrimp.

    5 Replies
    1. re: JoanN

      good incentive to save the $12/lb shells, eh?

      1. re: porker

        I try to avoid shrimp that has been peeled before freezing. I find the shells not only add more flavor to the shrimp, they protect the texture of it as well.

        1. re: JoanN

          I agree - even more so, shrimp that has been peeled *and* cooked before freezing.

          What I meant was to peel the shrimp at home and save (freeze) the shells until you get enough to make a stock or something....instead of throwing away stuff that you're paying $12/lb for.

          1. re: porker

            ^this ^this and a thousand times ^ this.

            Shells, legs etc make wonderful broth.

            1. re: Zalbar

              I really wanted this to be true but I've tried making broth from shells and it was so bad! I can only assume it was my error, I'll have to try again.

    2. That does not sound right to me unless you had head on shrimp. I think you may have had a lot of water loss... Maybe smaller shrimp have a higher ration of skin to meat...

      2 Replies
      1. re: kengk

        That sounds very low for headless shrimp. When I worked in a fish market years ago it was about 66%, regardless of what size we we were peeling.

        1. re: kengk

          They were 16/20 tiger shrimp if that makes any difference. I have noticed that these shrimp vs the non-tiger variety I have bought in the past seem to have somewhat thicker shells but not sure if that is actually true

        2. I know, it feels like such a waste to toss half of what you spent good money on! I always make soup broth with the shrimp shells. If I have peeled them raw, I saute the shells in a little olive oil for a few minutes till they turn pink, then add a couple cups of water and cook it for a few hours. Strain, then freeze to use for any fish soup, gumbo or jambalaya that I make another time.

          The head-on ones I got at the shrimp boat shack in Charleston did yield just 50%, but they were only 2 bucks a pound, so it didn't hurt as much.

          1. For head-on shrimp... sounds logical. For head-off, thiinking shells:tail ration would be significantly different. Think I'll check that out myself the next time I buy shrimp.

            Though I love crab, imagine you toss WAY more than you keep if you're picking them yourself... ven if you're really GOOD at it. That $25/lb lump or backfin just might be a bargain in the long run.

            2 Replies
            1. re: kseiverd

              Edible yield by weight from lobsters, both Maine and spiny, runs about 30%. My yield from shell-on headless pink Florida shrimp is 75% after cooking in the shell. I never learned the knack for thorough crab picking; not enough practice.

              1. re: Veggo

                I was lucky enough to learn from the ladies picking crabs down at the docks in Annapolis. I'm not as fast as I used to be (not much practice any more), but I'm still pretty quick!

            2. We peel large amounts of shrimp at work. 21-25 Gulf white or green and we get a much better yield than that I would say near 75% shrimp meat at least.

              1. That's about right in my experience. In the book Fish and Shellfish, James Peterson writes: "Remember that shrimp with heads lose more than half their whole weight by the time the head is removed and the rest of the shrimp is peeled and deveined."

                2 Replies
                1. re: AlkieGourmand

                  That is my rule of thumb when I am evaluating prices of shrimp in countries that only sell them whole. (Which is my first choice).

                  1. re: AlkieGourmand

                    And they can lose a further 5% to 10% of their weight in cooking.

                  2. I just peeled some nice North Carolina shrimps for my dinner. With this thread in mind I weighed out the before and after on an accurate digital scale.

                    These shrimp were purchased raw and frozen, in the shell, and headless from Ingles,

                    As they came out of the package, 16 shrimp weighed 302 grams . I thawed them in brine and peeled, removing the tail but being careful to get the nugget of meat in the tail.

                    The peeled shrimp weighed 226 grams.

                    226/302 = 74.8% so call it 75% yield.

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: kengk

                      Wow, it seems my yield might actually be low. Shrimp on the menu Saturday so will do another experiment.

                      1. re: kengk

                        but your brining probably added some weight, no?

                        1. re: kengk

                          I'm curious why you brine shrimp.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            I was actually wondering that too but thought it was just me.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              I used to have a recipe that wasn't really brining shrimp, but it called for washing the shrimp in salted water three times. Not sure what it did.

                              1. re: sunshine842

                                Sounds like a recipe from one of Grace Young’s books. She calls for it in a number of shrimp recipes. She doesn’t thaw the shrimp in the brine, but “washes” the peeled, deveined shrimp either in a couple of changes of salt water or puts the shrimps in a colander, sprinkles them with salt, and rinses under cold water. She says this gives the shrimp “a crisp, crystal-like texture the Chinese revere.” The few times I’ve tried it, I’ve noticed a definite improvement in the texture of the shrimp.

                                1. re: JoanN

                                  Nope, Ken Hom in "Fragrant Harbor Taste"

                                  Of all the bizarre things, Williams-Sonoma printed the recipe in one of their catalogs when the book came out back in the 90s...it was a good one, and since I lost the recipe (Shrimp and Leeks, IIRC) long ago, I've been thinking about buying the book.

                            2. re: kengk

                              I've cooked shrimp for years without brining. What's up with the weighing, am I missing something? Should I weigh the fish I'm frying tomorrow, and if so what do I do with the results?

                              1. re: James Cristinian

                                I only weigh because i count calories and macronutrients which is why I have "data."

                            3. Well, same shrimp, different day...83% yield - 477 grams with shell --> 400 grams without

                              1. Who cares about yield...just eat them! Lol! I think whole shrimp tastes sooo much better. I just now picked the meat out of 11 heads (large shrimp) and got quite a decent amount of meat plus the fat is amazing. Cooked the heads and leftover shells down to make an amazing stock! The leftover fat still clinging to the heads imparts a lovely red color and flavor. Not "fishy" at all but warm and hearty and that's before the seasoning! Yield...who cares...none of my head-on shrimp goes to waste. BTW, send me your heads....

                                14 Replies
                                1. re: paizley

                                  Well, I guess I care. When you don't want to eat the heads and shells the yield is kind of important but I'll send them right over to you.

                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                    ground service 'snail mail' right?

                                    (OK I'll stop being jealous over fresh shellfish now)

                                      1. re: paizley

                                        every cat in the neighborhood would be offering to sign for that delivery.

                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                          The NSA would start a kitty paw print data base.

                                          1. re: Veggo

                                            nah - they already know the contents of every litter box in town.

                                            1. re: Veggo

                                              Headline reads: Cats unite to shred the NSA!

                                              Thousands of cats managed to physically breach NSA security during the night then deftly destroyed and shredded the mainframe in minutes, leaving the agency down and defenseless. The whereabouts of the fearless felines is unkown. The only clues found by federal investigators are fur and some shed claws. It seems at least one tomcat left his mark.

                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                            Have you considered making shrimp stock with the heads and shells? My understanding is that a paella made with this stock is absolutely delicious. [Never done this myself due to a shrimp allergy.] Worth a thought.

                                            1. re: smtucker

                                              I always save the shells for stock.

                                              1. re: smtucker

                                                It's one of the reasons I buy shrimp with heads whenever possible. Which means whenever I'm in Chinatown.

                                              1. Missing an essential bit of information needed to make consistent comparisons. What SIZE of shrimp are we talking about. Remember the square-cube law (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Square-c...). As the shrimp gets larger the surface area (shell size & weight) increases as dimension^2 but the volume (meat size & weight) increases as dimension^3. Larger shrimp will have a higher meat to shell yield than smaller shrimp.

                                                That's my math geek workout for the day.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: kmcarr

                                                  Indeed! I noticed this issue because while I usually buy 20 count I bought a much smaller size and the yield was awful. It's generally 80-85% now (we eat shrimp probably twice a week) for the 20 count size. The surface area issue dawned on me and I realized that was probably it.

                                                2. It should be that if you peel them, it goes down one size: 16/20 become 20/25 etc. That's the industry standard. They go more by count than weight. Your description makes me think they had STP treatment and were overloaded with liquid.

                                                  15 Replies
                                                  1. re: coll

                                                    I knew someone in the seafood biz and he called the treated shrimp "heavy shrimp".

                                                      1. re: coll

                                                        And he blatantly admitted his company used STP to make the shrimp weigh more. He explained in detail and didn't even try to hide the fact. He said everyone else was doing it. His company owned several commercial shrimp boats in Florida. He was thinking profit.

                                                        1. re: paizley

                                                          Not everyone else does it. But most do. I can search out shrimp that doesn't have it relatively easily. Luckily it has to be listed on the ingredients.

                                                          1. re: coll

                                                            I haven't found a need to search for shrimp without STP, they are pretty readily available. I also have no problem finding dry scallops though did happen upon some wet scallops which I bought because they were so gargantuan. Well, I should have realize that I rarely see scallops that size. I realized when I sat down to eat and nearly lost my dinner back onto the plate. I actually didn't finish dinner that night the smell and taste were so revolting to me. I have yet to make that mistake again and now either buy from my usual source or verify they are dry.

                                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                  Scary, as I just said below. I'm fortunate to live in Florida where shrimp boats have no chemicals, nor does my vendor. That explains a lot.

                                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                                    you buying at Bell?

                                                                    I'm still grieving the loss of the old Seabreeze in Tampa, and hope Jimmy and family are doing well.

                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                      I buy shrimp next door at Star Fish (same owners), and stone crabs at Bell. Lets hope for a better stone crab season beginning next month, last year was terrible.
                                                                      Occasionally the Chop Shop has a good deal on wild caught shrimp from Alabama.

                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                I have not had any bad wet scallops where they had an off smell or taste but I agree that for most dishes dry scallops are worlds better than wet for many reasons.

                                                                One thing I found where wet scallops work well is scallops wrapped in bacon. The wet scallops allow for more cooking time to crisp the bacon w/out the scallop drying out.

                                                                One problem is many people are getting used to flavorless pumped seafood. At a party I served perfectly cooked shrimp cocktail using U-15 Mexican Pacific cold water Brown shrimp which are nice and firm & have a very strong shrimp flavor and a couple people complained that the flavor was too strong and opted for the waterlogged, flavorless Asian farmed whites that some else bought precooked at Acme. Go figure.

                                                              2. re: coll

                                                                I agree but he was referring to the region he was in.

                                                                1. re: paizley

                                                                  Most commercial frozen shrimp has STP in this country.

                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                            Thank you for the STP information. It is scary.

                                                        2. The only farm raised shrimp I know of that don't use STP are Ocean Garden. These actually have a strong shrimp flavor for a farm raised. They are sold in 4 lb blocks.

                                                          Virtually all Asian IQF shrimp have STP , shrink horribly when cooked and have little in the way of shrimp flavor.