Maryland Blue Crab
blue crab
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Blue Crab Recipes

Maryland Blue Crab

The Chesapeake Bay crustacean might be one of the most memorable symbols of Maryland.

When people speak of the state they will many times mention how much they enjoy eating steamed blue crabs. When the blue crabs mature, they will often average five to seven inches in width across their body. The supply of crabs is most abundant in late spring through late fall each year. Crab meat is available in many forms year round from a variety of seafood markets. The scientific name for blue crab is Callinectes sapidus, and means beautiful swimmer that is savory.

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The crab season in Maryland each year starts April 1 and runs through late fall. Legal size hard crabs must be at least 5 inches from point to point across the back, while soft crabs must be at least 3 1/2 inches across the back. In general, you can buy or purchase live crabs by the dozen or by the bushel from most vendors. When buying, you will notice that the crabs are typically graded by their size. Also make sure to buy live crabs that display a lot of movement. Cook only live crabs. Make sure that live and cooked crabs do not touch each other or be stored in the same container. It is important to adhere to this step to prevent cross contamination from bacteria normally found on raw food products. Utilizing proper cooking techniques kills bacteria.

While this tasty crustacean can be enjoyed with various cooking techniques, most will agree that the traditional cooking method is to steam blue crabs with seasonings scattered over the tops of the crabs. Serve them whole on a platter with dipping butter on the side, and dig in for some delicious crab meat. The meat from hard shell blue crabs can also be used in various types of chowders, stews, soups or sauces. When stored in airtight plastic bags, steamed crabs may be kept in the refrigerator 5-7 days.

While you can find crabs in other parts of the U.S., it is generally accepted that Maryland produces some of the best crab meat anywhere. The succulent body meat from Callinectes sapidus, is delicate and firm and the claw meat is nutty.

The blue crab can be found from Cape Cod to South America, but the greatest catch numbers are seen from Maryland through Texas. Typically crab meat that is imported from foreign countries (other than Mexico and South America) comes from another species of crab.

In Maryland, crab meat must be steamed rather than boiled, which results in better tasting crab meat that has a longer shelf life and contains less water weight, which provides the consumer with more crab per pound.

Crab meat processing plants will steam the crabs in advance. They are placed into containers and sold to restaurants, kitchens and stores. Fresh crab meat is packaged in plastic containers and should be stored on ice or in the coolest part of your refrigerator and used quickly, typically within three to five days.

Maryland Blue Crab is packed in containers as fresh or pasteurized and is available in the following forms:

These are the largest pieces of meat from the body portion, and is next to the backfin. This type is usually more desireable in recipes where the look of the dish is important. An excellent choice for dishes such as crab imperial, crab salad, and high end crab cakes.

It is white body meat that will consist of lump and flakes. Generally, the pieces may be smaller than jumbo lump but can be used in the same recipes that call for lump. It is an excellent choice for crab cakes and stuffings for fish and poultry.

Flakes of white body meat other than the lump meat from the main body of the crab. Wonderful for crab soups, casseroles and dips.

The Bbrownish meat from the claw has a sweet, nutty flavor. The claw meat is great to use to use in stews, soups, crab balls and claw-burgers. Claw meat is the least expensive crab meat.

The claw meat is attached to a section of the pincher. Ideal as an appetizer, delectable dipped in melted butter.

• Scientific classification:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Crustacea
Class: Malacostraca
Order: Decapoda
Suborder: Pleocyemata
Infraorder: Brachyura
Family: Portunidae
Genus: Callinectes
Species: C. sapidus

Maryland Crab Houses and Restaurants
Crab houses in Baltimore Maryland

Also see:
Soft Shell blue crabs
Crab Cobb Salad
Maryland Blue Crab Cake Panini
Pan fried soft shell blue crabs
Maryland Blue Crab File Okra Gumbo


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