For many seafood lovers, summertime means crab season, especially soft shell crabs. While the east coast, especially Maryland, is well known for soft shell crabs, they can also be found along the Gulf Coast of Mexico. Blue crabs are generally associated with Atlantic coast states like Maryland, but these soft shell crabs are also found in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida.
What Are Blue Crabs?
A blue crab isn’t a species of crab, but this soft shell crab is a regular crab that has molted. This means the crab has outgrown its shell and has shed it so a bigger shell can be grown. These crabs will only be soft shelled for two to three hours before their shell starts to harden again. Soft shell crabs are available from April to October, which is when they molt.
The season for soft shelled crabs runs longer along the Gulf Coast of Mexico because the water is warmer. In the Chesapeake Bay area, which includes Maryland, the water is much colder and so the season is shorter. When the water temperature starts falling to about 50 degrees, there are less blue crab to be found in the Atlantic Ocean.
Buying Blue Crabs
Unless you live on or near the coast where they are found, it can be difficult to buy blue crabs in a local supermarket. You may be able to find them in specialty seafood markets or available at some high-end restaurants. If you do locate them in your grocery, they will typically be frozen. One good way to buy blue crab is through a seafood supplier.
Seafood suppliers buy their stock directly from fishing boats on the docks in places like Maryland, Maine, Texas and several other coastal states. They may send live crabs or lobsters to their customers, but since crabs are best when first caught, they will pre-cook them and freeze them before they are shipped. If you are buying soft shelled crabs, they are cleaned and frozen in order to prepare them for shipping.
Cooking Blue Crabs
Once you receive your shipment of blue crabs, you can thaw and prepare them any way that you like. Many people love to eat fried soft shell crabs and since they are smaller than hard shell crabs, the entire crab can be fried and eaten. Some people like to eat them as a burger, between two slices of bread or a bun. Soft shelled crabs can be cooked in many different ways, including steamed, boiled and grilled.
Soft-shelled crabs are a delicacy for many people. They look forward to the summertime so they can order their favorite crabs and cook them for friends and family so they can enjoy these delicious crabs as well.