All About Maryland Blue Crabs

The crab native to Maryland is the blue or blue channel, named for the blue on the claw. These crabs are sold: live, steamed in the shell, fresh and pasteurized cooked meat.Live and steamed crabs average in size from 5″ to 6″ and are graded and sold as number 1’s(prime) and number 2’s (medium) according to size. they are sold by the dozen and by the bushel. A 6-ounce steamed crab in the shell will yield approximately 3 oz of picked  meat.

Fresh And Pasteurized cooked meat is sold in 8 oz, 12 oz, and 1 lb cans in fish markets and in most supermarkets. Pasteurized is far inferior to fresh meat and should be avoided whenever possible.

The following types of crab meat are available:

Backfin: Meat consists of whole pieces of white meat from the large body muscles that operate the swimming legs of the crab.

Regular: Meat consists small bits of whole meat from the body.

Special: Meat consists of a mixture of backfin and regular.

Claw: consists of the brownish tinted meat from the claws.

Cocktail crab claws: (crab fingers) are the large biter claws of the crab with the shell partially removed. They are generally sold in 12 oz cans, fresh or pasteurized.

Shelf life of fresh steamed crabs and cook fresh crabmeat is 3-5 days under constant refrigeration. Shelf life of Pasteurized crab meat is 6 months or longer when kept under refrigeration.
One cup cooked crabmeat equal approximately 5.7 ounces; 1 lb crabmeat yields approximately 3 cups.

Soft crabs are molting blue crabs taken just after they have shed their hard shells and before new shells have formed. Soft crabs are sold live and frozen. Live crabs should should be cleaned and used within a few hours or frozen. Soft crabs are sold in the following sizes. Jumbo, Prime, Medium and small.

Pasteurized crabmeat is a special method of subjecting fresh crabmeat to a special heat process that prevents spoilage. By pasteurization and hermetically sealing in cans, you can have a supply of fresh crabmeat on hand at all times, although the quality does suffer during this canning process. As long as the can remains sealed, the pasteurized crabmeat will keep in the almost fresh state for 6 months to a year under the Proper conditions, refrigerated at 33-35 degrees. However, once the can is open, the same conditions apply as that existing in freshly picked meat.

Finally always keep cook crabs separate from live crabs to prevent contamination by bacteria normally found on raw food products.

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