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I am getting a bushel of crabs tomorrow morning for football and dont know how many people to invite over. How many people do you think would all be able to have a good amount to eat out of a bushel of crabs?

also , the crabs are mixed... not a specific size.

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You always learn something... I never heard about a bushel before in my life... So, for the metric users out there, it's about 36 liters. :) –  nico Nov 4 '12 at 19:07
    
@nico : a bushel is 4 pecks. Of course, I've never seen anyone measure anything in pecks, only bushel or half bushels. And a US bushel is smaller than an Imperial bushel –  Joe Nov 5 '12 at 2:18
    
@Joe: yes, that was my source of knowledge about the ~36 liters! :D –  nico Nov 5 '12 at 6:57
    
just fyi: this was for a football party that some people ended up not making it to. 10 people knocked em out in 4 loads throughout the day from 1:00 to 8:30ish. We were a little uncomfortably stuffed by the end of the day, and really could have used some more people. And all of our teams lost that day, which didnt help. The bushel ended up being a little light, not to the brim, but it was a good day! –  jumpdart Nov 5 '12 at 14:19

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

There's no fixed number, as you have too many other variables:

  • How big are the people eating? (athletes are going to eat more than kids or people on diets)
  • What are they being served with? (If it's just a table filled w/ crabs, they're going to eat more than if you have other side dishes available)
  • How experienced are the people with eating crabs? (Some folks are so slow at picking crabs they'll give up in annoyance. Others are so skilled they'll wolf them down quickly. In high school, some folks I know from the Eastern Shore would pick the backfin out then trash the rest, ignoring the flake and the claws)
  • How are they being served? (very spicy will slow most people down. And you have to remind the crab newbies to wash their hands before using the bathroom)
  • What temperature is it? (on really hot days, people eat less)
  • How long is it going to be? (if you're hanging out all day, people might get a second wind and go for more crabs)

I'm going to guess that if they're 'mixed', they're probably mediums, so maybe 7 or 8 dozen per bushell. 3 or 4 crabs per person is about typical, adjusting mostly based on the the factors above. (large, physically active folks or experienced pickers might eat 6 or more ... inexperienced folks often give up by the second one ... but you'll want more if you're doing it as an all-day thing, or if it's almost all crabs and hardly any sides)

I guess just make sure you have plenty of drinks and some sides for those that give up on the crabs or if you run out.

...

And don't just go and pitch the shells afterwards ... you can generally get quite a bit more meat going them a second look through (the folks who skipped claws if nothing else), and picking whatever's left over. Freeze that meat, then rinse the legs (most people don't crack and suck them) to get most of the seasoning off, crack them, and simmer them to make a crab stock for bisque. If you have a really large pot, go for the rest of the shells, too ... strain, boil it down to concentrate it, then freeze.

You'd be tempted to add extra stuff to the stock besides the shells, but as we don't know how much seasoning's still on the crabs, you really need to wait 'til it's done, then add other stuff when using it to make the final dish.

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Asians. Asians have a tendency to be experts at shelling and eating crab quickly so be wary. I can be an unscientifically small sample size of 1 to demonstrate at said crab bake. Or... you could just ask your guests too... –  grumpasaurus Nov 3 '12 at 21:14
    
I always wanted to try making crab stock from the shells, but am usually too tired after eating crabs all day to worry about anything other than just getting rid of the evidence. I want to try a seafood chili with it. –  jumpdart Nov 5 '12 at 14:12
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@jumpdart : likely too late at this point, but after rinsing, you can break them into smaller bits so they'll compact better, then bag and freeze, and deal with another day. –  Joe Nov 5 '12 at 17:36

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