Crabs are a delicious seafood delicacy that is enjoyed particularly during summer. Unfortunately, crab meat is expensive, especially when eaten at a restaurant. The price of crab depends on size; fortunately, some species are smaller, cost less, and are just as mouth-watering as larger varieties.
Blue Crab is cheap because this species is smaller than others and grows between 7 and 9 inches across the shell. The harvesting season for blue crab is long, starting in April and lasting to around November, ensuring ample supply during the crabbing season and thereby reducing the price.
Blue Crab meat is one of the most delicious crab meats, and although small and cheaper, there are numerous ways to prepare it. Recreational crabbing along the west Atlantic coastline is also a fun way to catch them during summer.
The Reasons That Blue Crabs Are Cheap
Blue Crabs grow to approximately 7 – 9 inches long across the shell and weigh on average 1 – 2 pounds; this makes them one of the smaller edible crabs and consequently cheaper. Female crabs are even smaller and cost less.
The Blue Crab’s habitat is along the west Atlantic Coast from Nova Scotia through the Gulf of Mexico and up to Uruguay. The harvesting season is from April to November, which ensures ample Blue Crab during the summer months.
Supply and demand are key factors influencing prices, and with Blue Crabs being in good supply during these months, they become cheaper to buy. The best time to purchase these crabs is during peak season in September and October.
The cheapest way to buy fresh Blue Crab is from fishermen at the docks. If you are buying more than three dozen, buy a bushel which is the most cost-effective.
The Blue crab is found in shallow waters during the summer and is not difficult to see. Recreational crabbing is also a popular activity along seashores.
The Appearance And Habitat Of The Blue Crab
The Blue Crab is named for its sapphire-colored claws, although the shell is mottled olive-brown. Female crabs, on the other hand, have red-tipped claws. They have pincers, and the Blue Crab’s hind legs resemble paddles, making them exceptional swimmers.
Examining the bellies of Blue Crabs is the best way to tell males and females apart. Male crabs are identifiable by the inverted T-Shaped flap on the abdomen. A female has a half-circle flap on its underside.
Blue Crabs live in brackish coastal lagoons and estuaries from Nova Scotia to the Gulf of Mexico and as far south as Uruguay. They are omnivorous and feed on muscles, crabs, fish, plants, snails, carrion, and even some softer-shelled Blue Crabs. They are susceptible to changes in their habitat and environment.
The lifespan of a Blue Crab is 1 – 4 years, and it molts throughout its life. Blue Crabs shed their hard shell, and for less than a day, they are left with a soft shell and a limp body and eaten in their entirety.
Eight Tips For Recreational Crabbing
Many families enjoy recreational crabbing in Summer. Here are a few guidelines for recreational crabbing.
- Look for crabs in saltwater such as marshes, bays, inlets, and the ocean. You may also find crabs near underwater structures.
- The best time to catch Blue Crabs is when the tide comes in, and crabs move towards the shore. They feed on tiny aquatic creatures stirred up by the water movement making it easier to find and catch them.
- Try crabbing in the early morning or late afternoon.
- Use dead fish, chicken legs, or other cheap meat as bait. If you are using dead fish, it must have cuts allowing the smell to travel through the water. Chicken legs are not expensive and provide a solid bait ensuring that crabs do not break away.
- The best way to catch crabs is by either using a weighted handline, a box trap made of wire mesh, a pyramid-shaped trap, or a ring trap made from wire mesh or string.
- In addition to your crab traps or handline, take a utility knife and thick gloves to protect your fingers.
- To keep the crab from moving when caught, put your foot on it. Protect your foot with suitable footwear. When you have secured the crab, pick it by the flipper or last leg. Then take your foot off the crab and lift it so it won’t pinch you.
- If a crab bites you, take your other hand and pull the crab until the claw breaks off.
There is a limit on the number and size of Blue Crabs you may catch; check this with your local fishing authority.
The Best Way To Prepare And Clean Blue Crabs
The scientific name for Blue Crab is Callinectes Sapidus which means ‘beautiful savory swimmer.’ Although small, they are enjoyable seafood with meat that is tender, tastes briny, and has a sweet undertone—the meat pairs well with most other foods. Locals use Blue Crabs for crab cakes, soup, and dips.
Crabs can be canned or frozen; however, the most enjoyable way is to eat them fresh by boiling, steaming, or baking them. You must ensure that the crab is cleaned properly before cooking it.
Cook the crabs for at least 20 minutes. When the crab is ready, the shell will turn bright orange. Some people prefer cooking crabs without adding salt, while others add vinegar, beer, or crab spice to enhance the flavor.
Cleaning A Crab In Six Easy Steps
Using tongs, pick the crap up and put it in a bucket of iced water for at least five minutes. The ice water stuns the crab and prevents nasty pinches.
- Flip the crab over onto its shell. If it’s a female, you will see a half-circle flap. A male will have an upside-down T-Shape on his belly. Use your thumb to remove the apron with a prying motion as if you were opening a can of soda.
- Use the same method to peel the shell off. Leave the shell on if preferred.
- Place the crab in the sink and rinse out the yellow-green entrails.
- Pluck off the crab’s mouth parts; these are the rectangular pieces of shell below the eyes.
- Use your fingers to peel the gills off. Gills are the bits of spongy material on the crab’s back.
- Rinse the crab.
When the crab is clean, you are ready to boil, steam, or bake it.
Blue Crabs are smaller than other crabs and therefore cheaper and abundant along the west of the Atlantic Ocean, from Nova Scotia and even as far as Uruguay. The harvesting season is long, and they are in ample supply, which reduces the price. The Blue Crab grows to around 7 inches across its shell and weighs approximately 1 pound.
The Blue Crab derives its name after its sapphire-colored claws. Recreational crabbing is a fun activity for families in the summer months. Blue crabs are delicious, have tender meat with a salty flavor and a sweet undertone, and pair easily with various foods. Crabs can be steamed, boiled, baked, and used in many other dishes.