Crab SelectionYour best bet is to purchase live crabs whenever possible. Crabs should be alert and brandish their pinchers when poked. Soft-shell crabs should be translucent and completely soft.
Crabs should have a fresh, salt water aroma; avoid those that smell sour or extremely fishy. Deal with a reputable seafood provider, and let your nose be your guide. Thawed, cooked crab should also be odor-free, and thawed only on the day of sale. Do not purchase or consume whole, uncooked, dead crabs.
It takes 10 to 15 hard-shelled crabs to yield 1-1/2 pounds of meat. Count on 6 steamed blue crabs per person or 2 soft-shell crabs per person. One live crab will yield 1 to 1-1/2 cups meat. One pound of meat is about 3 cups. One 7.5-ounce can yields 1 cup crabmeat.
Crab StorageCrab or crabmeat is available year-round in some form, including live, raw, frozen, cooked, and canned. Live crabs should be refrigerated and used on the day of purchase. Raw crabmeat should also be kept refrigerated and used within 24 hours.
Thawed, cooked crab should be used within the same day of purchase. Vacuum-packed crab can be stored in the refrigerator up to 1 month and used within 4 days of opening. Canned crab is good for 6 months.
If canned crabmeat tastes a bit tinny or metallic, place the meat in a bowl of ice water and let it soak for 5 minutes. Drain thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels.
When using canned crabmeat, it is recommended that you pick over the meat. This means to carefully pick through the meat with your fingertips to remove any bits of shell that may have been missed during the processing.
To freeze crabmeat, cook the crabs and remove the meat. Pack into airtight containers and cover with a light brine (4 teaspoons of salt to 1 quart of water), leaving 1/2-inch headspace in the container. Frozen crab can be stored up to 4 months at 0 degrees F.
More About Crabs and Crab Recipes:• Crab Selection and Storage
• What is a she-crab? FAQ
• Crab Varieties
• Crab Terminology
• Peekytoe Crabs
• Crabs and Health
• Crab History
• Crab Recipes
Crab Photos © 2008 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.