FoodReference.com Logo

 

FoodReference.com (since 1999)
Food Articles, News & Features Section

 

 

Chef working

  You are here > 

HomeFood ArticlesShellfish Articles >  Blue Crab

 

Culinary Schools & Cooking Classes
From Amateur & Basic Cooking Classes to Professional Chef Training & Degrees -  Associates, Bachelors & Masters.  More than 1,000 schools & classes listed for all 50 States, Online and Worldwide

 

FREE Food & Beverage Publications
An extensive selection of free magazines and other publications for qualified Food, Beverage & Hospitality professionals

 

BLUE CRABS

 

See also: Crab Appetizers and Crab Entrees

Blue Crabs Are Always A Favorite

The blue crab is a funny site to behold, walking sideways along the sand using its three middle pairs of legs, while its front bright blue pincer claws are used to defend itself and grasp prey. The species earns part of its Latin name, Callinectes, or “beautiful swimmer” from its hind appendages, which are broad and flat like paddles and make the crab a remarkable swimmer indeed.

The blue crab, one of the most valuable crustaceans in the United States, is aptly described by its scientific name, Callinectes sapidus (Calli -- beautiful; nectes -- swimmer; and sapidus -- savory). Blue crabs have five pairs of legs and the first pair is equipped with pincers. They have a hard shell or exoskeleton which is brownish-green or dark green and drawn out on each side into a long spine. The underside of the body and legs are white. Male and female claws are various shades of blue on top and the tips of the female's claws are bright red.

blue-crabBlue crabs are found along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. A shallow water crab, it can live in salt, fresh and brackish waters of bays, sounds, channels and river mouths. They are omnivorous, feeding on plants and animals. During the winter months, blue crabs move into deeper water and enter a state of semi-hibernation. They are commercially harvested by traps.

The process of molting allows the crab to shed its external shell periodically in order to grow. Before molting begins, a new soft-shell forms inside, and the crab backs out of the old loose shell. Soft-shell blue crabs are hard blue crabs that were captured when they were ready to molt (called peelers) and held in water-filled trays until their old shell has shed.

Whole blue crabs are sold live or steamed. Sweet-tasting crab meat is available both fresh and pasteurized in the following forms: lump, backfin, special, claw and cocktail claw. Lump crab meat or jumbo lump, is the largest pieces of meat from the body and also the most expensive form of crabmeat. For overall elegance and visual appeal, lump is the top choice. Backfin crab meat is the pale ivory flakes of white body meat and is subtle in flavor. Backfin is best used for crab cakes and it offers crab meat in smaller pieces for greater versatility. Special consists of the flakes of white body meat other than the lump meat. It's good for crab soups, casseroles and dips. Claw and leg crab meat have a darker, reddish color and is more flavorful. It is best for soups, pastas, and dips. Claw meat is a favorite of many chefs because it stands up to bold seasonings that would overpower the tender succulent lump grades. Cocktail claws are bite-sized morsels perfect for appetizers. No matter which form you choose, blue crab meat is known for its delicious flavor and delicate texture.

edible-crustaceansLive blue crabs should have some leg movement when purchased. Refrigerate in a breathable container such as a bag or cardboard box, and do not store directly on ice. Fresh blue crab meat should be stored in the coldest part of your refrigerator and used within seven to 10 days. Pasteurized blue crab meat in unopened containers can be stored up to six months in the coldest part of your refrigerator. Once opened, pasteurized crab meat needs to be used within three days.

Soft-shell blue crab is a special delicacy produced under the watchful eye of a “crab peeler.” Blue crabs prepare for growth by breaking free from the old shell, swelling up and hardening. To capture soft-shell blue crabs, ready to molt crabs or “peelers” are held in water-filled trays until their old shell has shed. The newly emerged crab is cleaned and packed for shipment. Soft-shell blue crabs can be purchased fresh or frozen. Nutritionally, soft-shell blue crabs are low in fat, saturated fat free, high in calcium and a good source of iron. When purchasing soft-shells be sure and test the crab’s shell to make sure it is very pliable. Fresh soft-shell blue crab should be refrigerated and cooked within two days.

Whether you are in the mood for sautéed, steamed or broiled, blue crabs are perfect to satisfy your seafood appetite. The tasty meat can be described as succulent, rich and creamy, melt in your mouth seafood. Blue crab is a delicacy rich in vitamins and low in fat.

 

BLUE CRAB ATTRIBUTES
Delicate texture, sweet meat, low fat.

SUBSTITUTE SPECIES
Stone Crab, Golden Crab, Spiny Lobster, Shrimp.

HOW MUCH TO BUY
• Blue Crab, in shell: 3 to 4 whole crabs per serving.
• Blue Crab, meat: 1/6 pound per serving.

BUYING, STORAGE AND HANDLING

    Live:
    • Remember to purchase seafood last and keep it cold during the trip home.
    • Blue Crabs should have some leg movement when purchased.
    • Discard dead crabs and ones with broken shells.
    • Refrigerate in a breathable container (a bag or cardboard box).
    • Do not store directly on ice.

    Meat:
    • Remember to purchase seafood last and keep it cold during the trip home.
    • Blue Crab is available fresh and pasteurized in the following forms: lump, backfin, special, claw and cocktail claw.
    • Pasteurized blue crabmeat in unopened containers can be stored up to six months in the coldest part of your refrigerator.
    • Once opened, use within three days.
    • Fresh Blue Crab meat should be stored on ice in the coldest part of your refrigerator and used within seven to 10 days.

    Soft-shell Blue Crab:
    • Remember to purchase seafood last and keep it cold during the trip home.
    • Soft-shell Blue Crab is available live, fresh or frozen.
    • Fresh soft-shell Blue Crab should be refrigerated and cooked within two days.

PREPARATION

    • Keep raw and cooked seafood separate to prevent bacterial cross-contamination. After handling raw seafood thoroughly wash knives, cutting surfaces, sponges and your hands with hot soapy water.

    • Always marinate seafood in the refrigerator.

    • Discard marinade; it contains raw juices which may harbor bacteria.

    • When marinade is needed for basting reserve a portion before adding raw seafood.

COOKING

    • To cook: Add to boiling seasoned water and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes.

    • Cooked meat: Toss with salad greens, use as a topping on pizza, make crab cakes or use in dips and spreads.


NUTRITION

Nutritional values for approximately 4 ounces (114 grams) of raw, edible portions
• Calories 90  
• Calories From Fat 10  
• Total Fat 1 g
• Saturated Fat 0  g
• Cholesterol 80 mg
• Sodium 320 mg
• Total Carbohydrates 0  g
• Protein 19 g

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services  www.fl-seafood.com
 

 

RELATED ARTICLES

  Conch: Seagoing Snail   |   Shrimp   |   Blue Crab   |   Clams, Florida Clams   |   Clams: Happy as a Clam   |   Crabs Are Delictable Summer Fare   |   Golden Crab   |   Mussels, Farmed   |   Mussels, Greenshell   |   Make a Mussel   |   Oysters   |   Oysters, The World is Your Oyster   |   Rock Shrimp   |   Scallops, Mr. & Mrs. Scallop   |   Scallops   |   SeaPak Shrimp & Recipes   |   Spiny Lobster   |   Stone Crab  

Go to Top of page

  Home   |   About & Contact Us   |   Chef James Bio   |   Website Bibliography   |   Recipe Contests   |   Food Links  

Please feel free to link to any pages of FoodReference.com from your website.  For permission to use any of this content please E-mail: james@foodreference.com  All contents are copyright © 1990 - 2016 James T. Ehler and www.FoodReference.com unless otherwise noted.  All rights reserved.  You may copy and use portions of this website for non-commercial, personal use only.  Any other use of these materials without prior written authorization is not very nice and violates the copyright.  Please take the time to request permission.