Blue crab is famous for its rich, buttery, and sweet flavor, and a popular way of enjoying it is by making sweet crab cakes. It is no wonder that blue crabs are such a delicious feast that many people enjoy. But is blue crab served alive or dead? Is it even safe for you to eat blue crabs if they die? Let’s find out.
You should never eat a blue crab after it has died, even if it were alive at the time of purchasing. Bacteria take over its body instantly. Never store blue crabs in airtight or waterlogged containers since this is a sure way for you to kill them before you even have a chance to prepare them.
Blue crabs come in hard-shell and soft-shell varieties. When you’re purchasing either one of them, you should always check to ensure that they are alive. Crabs will move around, so it’s easy to check. Store them in a cool area with a lot of air. If you keep blue crabs on ice, you should make sure that the ice doesn’t melt and dam up. Here are some things that will allow you to eat blue crabs safely.
Is It Safe For You To Eat A Blue Crab If It Is Dead?
It is never safe for you to eat a blue crab if it is dead. Once blue crabs die, their digestive enzymes and toxins will grow and expand into the crab meat, spoiling it. Even cooking won’t kill all of the different toxins and bacteria. Spoiled crab meat will be mushy and will not have the same sweet and buttery taste as a crab that was still alive at the time of cooking.
Food-borne illnesses can occur far too quickly from eating seafood that should not be eaten. You should never risk taking the chance since it could even be lethal. A dead blue crab will start to smell like ammonia, so if you smell even a hint of ammonia, you should not eat it. This is already a sign that decomposition has begun.
How Long Can A Blue Crab Stay Out Of Water?
Blue crabs can generally stay out of water for up to 24 hours. It is much safer to boil the crab while you still know that it is alive. Once the crab is cooked, you can refrigerate the meat for a much longer time than you would be able to keep the blue crab alive out of seawater.
Blue crabs are kept alive by putting them in a container with plenty of air inside and storing this container in a cool place. But even if you do it precisely as it is suggested, the chance of the blue crabs dying is still there. You should just take the time to cook them while they are still alive instead, after which you can keep them in the refrigerator for up to three days.
How To Tell If A Blue Crab Is Dead
When crabs are taken out of their natural environment, they will start to move slower and be more inactive. Crabs are usually very active creatures in their habitats, so taking them out is quite a disruption for them. They can quickly die at this stage, and lack of movement is one way to know if they are dead.
Even so, do not think that crabs that show no movement are dead yet. They will grow more lethargic once they are in captivity. There are a few actions that you can take before you finally determine if the crab that you bought is dead or still alive.
Crabs that are alive and safe to eat will quickly show movement by raising their claws in defense when you start poking them with a stick or even a kitchen utensil. All you have to do is tap on top of the crab’s shell, but do it gently; do not be aggressive with your tapping. If the crab doesn’t respond, then it is dead, and you should discard it rather than eat it.
Never Eat Raw Blue Crab
For the same reasons that you can not and should not eat dead blue crabs, you should also not eat raw blue crabs. The digestive enzymes and bacteria in the crab’s organs will grow into the parts of the crab that are edible. These toxins will expand into your meat and make it mushy, and you will not enjoy the taste.
Bacterial pathogens that are found in blue crabs while they are still raw can be very harmful and even lethal if you eat the blue crab meat raw. Rather cook the crab while it is alive since the digestive enzymes will not have time to spread and spoil the crab meat.
Why Do Crabbers Dispose Of Dead Blue Crabs?
All crabs, including blue crabs, should be alive until the moment you start cooking them. Crabbers will constantly pick through their catch to discard any crabs that are dead. Crabbers, fishmongers, and people that know their food all know that you should never eat dead blue crabs, or any crabs for that matter, once they are dead.
What Could Happen If I Eat A Dead Blue Crab?
More often than not, you can tell if a blue crab has died before consumption. But what happens if you ate blue crab somewhere else, like at a restaurant, and you do not know if it was dead or alive before cooking?
You can identify dead blue crab meat in a few ways. The meat will be discolored. The meat of a blue crab should be tender, flaky, and white, so if it has any other color or consistency, that could indicate a dead blue crab. It will also smell of ammonia (sometimes even just a faint bad smell). If the meat doesn’t taste sweet and buttery, you should stop eating it immediately.
Food poisoning from a dead blue crab can include nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps, vomiting, and abdominal pain. You could have a fever and muscle pain too. If this happens, you should drink plenty of water and stay hydrated in any way that you can to avoid dehydration. Unfortunately, the best way to solve the problem is to simply let your body work all of it out of your system.
If you have more severe symptoms of food poisoning, you should contact your doctor or the ER at your local hospital immediately since it could be much more severe and even life-threatening for some individuals.
You should only eat a blue crab if it is alive, and if you are not perfectly sure if it is safe to eat, then you should rather not eat it at all. The blue crab must be adequately cooked to kill all of the bacteria and even parasites often found in blue crabs before they spread into the meat and edible parts of the crab and spoil it completely.