Buying and storing crab

Eating crab is one of life’s little luxuries, whether they are steamed and served on their own or whether they are part of typical East Coast sea food boil.

Summer time is Blue Crab time. Blue crabs are readily available and extremely popular but buying them does mean that you need to learn a few tricks.

What to look for:

When you are looking to buy crab there are only two available options; you can buy them live or you can buy crab that has been precooked and processed. Never buy raw crab that has perished, the enzymes contained in the crab tends to turn the meat soft and mushy quite quickly. If you are down on the pier and you spot crab, if it moves buy it, if you touch it and it doesn’t move then don’t.

How to store crab:

If you buy live crab and you have every intention of cooking them on the day then all you really have to do is put them in a pail which has been lined with dampened newspaper, if you have space you can keep them in your refrigerator or in a picnic cooler. Just keep them damp and cool; they don’t want to be kept in water.

If you have purchased steamed crab, keep it chilled in the refrigerator and eat it within a couple of days, otherwise freeze it.

Types of crab:

There are many different crab specifies, three of the most popular are:

  • Blue crab is synonymous with Chesapeake Bay. Chesapeake Bay blue crab has richer, stronger flavor than its Asian counterpart which is sold in cans.

  • Soft-shell crab is crab that has just molted. The soft-shell crab season in the Chesapeake Bat area starts in late April or early May and runs through July.

  • King crab is known for their gigantic claws. These cold water crabs have a very brief season, only October and November. It may be hard to believe but a single king crab claw can weigh as much as one pound. When you buy king crab make sure it is labeled Alaskan.

When you buy crab a good rule of thumb is to serve one and a half to two pounds per person, once the meat is out of the shell the serving size will be about a half to three quarters of a pound. For more information, visit Harbour House Crabs.

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