What's New - Vermont Crawfish CompanyJune 3, 2016
If the seasons starts as Sal predicts, in about a week's time, he'll be driving around Vermont to talk with chefs and bring them samples of his product - live Vermont crawfish! Sal Vitagliano, a retired postmaster, is catching crawfish from clean water sources in and around Rutland and quickly becoming the state authority on the freshwater crustaceans. The crawfish season runs from late May after eggs are hatched, to October - opposite New Orleans. The species is different as well, but the Northeast crawfish Sal catches taste indistinguishable from the Southern Slump variety of Southern states. Sal catches crawfish by setting baited traps out at night and retrieving them in the morning. Crawfish trapping is quite sustainable - the small crawfish can escape the trap and live on to breed and sustain the species and the older, larger, more desirable crawfish are the ones hauled in. A similarity between all crawfish is that they thrive only in clean water, so Sal sets his traps in pristine water sources, free of too many camps or motorboat traffic.
Why haven't we seen wild caught Northeast crawfish before?
As far as Sal knows, Vermont Crawfish Company is the only game around...
"When I started out, there were no regulations for catching crawfish," Sal shared, "I had to work with the folks at Fish and Wildlife to help develop a commercial collecting permit." Sal took it upon himself to become the local expert and is helping the state grow their knowledge of the species - even keeping an eye out for invasive crawfish that have been spotted in the White River Valley. The learning curve doesn't just apply to state officials, but also to chefs - many of whom have never worked with crawfish before. Sal, who is a pit-master and avid home cook, is prepared to teach anyone how to throw a traditional boil and prepare the crawfish. He learned while accompanying his wife to a trade show in New Orleans where they were conveniently adjacent to the Louisana Crawfish Company who excitedly talked shop and taught him all their secrets. "It's just about getting people to know there are local crawfish here in Vermont, and that they're just as good as the ones in New Orleans," said Sal. And the proof is in the boil. Last summer, Sal manned the boil at the Killington Classic and received confirmation from a group of Big Easy bikers that the Vermont crawfish were just as tasty as their native species!
Look for Sal at festivals this summer and soon, at a restaurant near you. He'll be traveling North with samples next week - give him a call if you'd like to try the product! Whether you're looking to do a boil for a party or searching for a sustainable, local alternative to shrimp, Vermont crawfish are the way to go!