Shrimp scampi, shrimp kabobs, coconut shrimp, shrimp and grits… Is your mouth watering yet? For a variety of popular shrimp, the shrimping season in Florida officially begins in August. There are many different kinds of Florida shrimp that are caught off our shores, and they all have different qualities that make them unique and delicious.
At Ward’s, we love providing the people of Gainesville the freshest shrimp possible. Read our guide below to learn more about the different kinds Florida shrimp!
The Different Kinds of Florida Shrimp
While similar in taste, not all shrimp caught off the coast of Florida are the same. There are many different kinds of Florida shrimp, and they all have different qualities that make them suited for different cooking preparations.
Gulf Brown Shrimp
The peak time for catching gulf brown shrimp is between June and August. They are caught in deeper, murkier water and are mostly found in the northeast and northwest coasts of Florida. These shrimp have a distinct iodine taste and are commonly mistaken for pink or white shrimp.
Gulf Pink Shrimp
Pink shrimp are the most abundantly caught shrimp in Florida. They have two peak seasons: March to May and then October through December. Pink shrimp are most commonly caught in the southern waters of Florida, especially near the Keys, giving them the nickname of “Key West Pinks”. Their meat is sweeter and tender than other varieties of shrimp, and after often larger in size, making them the most popular shrimp to eat.
While the other varieties of shrimp are caught in on the Gulf side of Florida, rock shrimp are caught on the Atlantic side. Their shrimping season goes from August through October. While they share the same sweet taste as pink gulf shrimp, the texture is thicker and chewier. They are named “rock” shrimp because their shell is much harder than other varieties of shrimp.
Gulf white shrimp are also caught in the Atlantic Ocean, specifically in the northern Atlantic coast of Florida. The name “white shrimp” is somewhat deceiving because when they are harvested, they have more of a greenish/blueish hue to their flesh, but turn pink later when cooked. Their meat is sweet and firm they are popular in a variety of recipes.
How to Buy Florida Shrimp
If you are looking to buy shrimp from your local supermarket, there are a few things you should know before you head to the store.
Unless you can verify that the shrimp have been harvested within the past 3 days, it’s best to buy shrimp frozen. As always, you can consult the managers in our Meat & Seafood Department about the shrimp selection in our store. Frozen shrimp are usually frozen shortly after they are harvested, locking in the freshness and flavor. Frozen shrimp also lasts for weeks in the freezer, whereas fresh shrimp only lasts a few days.
Check the Shell
If you see any noticeable black spots on the shrimp’s shell, it means that the flesh has already begun to decay. These black spots are a symptom of melanosis. In addition, you should avoid shrimp that has a yellowish color to the shell or the shell feels gritty to the touch. This means that the shrimp has been washed with sodium bisulfite, a bleaching agent used to hide melanosis.
Check for Smell
As with any meat, the smell can tell you a lot about the freshness. In the case of shrimp, you want to smell saltwater and nothing else. If your shrimp smells “fishy” then it’s probably not good anymore.
Buy Florida Shrimp at Ward’s
If you are as excited about shrimp season as we are, visit us at our store to see our shrimp selection! We do our best to provide the freshest shrimp selection for Gainesville, and if you have any questions, feel free to contact us and speak with our Meat & Seafood Department Manager. We strive to provide shrimp that is fresh, sustainably raised, and delicious! Happy Shrimp Season!