Does Canned Crab Meat Come Cooked Or Raw?

canned crab meat next to lemons
canned crab meat next to lemons - Natalia Wimberley/Shutterstock

Crab meat is a prized delicacy that can be enjoyed in everything from tasty crab cakes to delightful hot crab dip. Still, despite its deliciousness, some of us dread working with this crustacean. Not only is the price likely to make your wallet hurt, but the process of breaking down whole crabs can be tedious. The reward for picking every last bit of meat is worth it, but sometimes, you just can't be bothered. That's where canned crab comes in.

Canned crab meat is a great alternative that suits most recipes, not to mention it's far more affordable. If you've never worked with it, however, you may wonder: Do you have to take the extra time to cook canned crab separately before adding it to your dishes? The answer is no -- canned crab comes fully cooked and ready-to-eat.

Canning crab begins by cooking the crabs whole. The crabs are cleaned, then the meat is removed and pasteurized before it's sealed into cans. This canning technique deters the risk of bacterial growth and ensures that the crab meat is safe for eating right out of the can. How's that for easy and convenient? However, you should know that canned crab doesn't last forever, especially after you open it.

Read more: 13 Tips To Make Your Shrimp Taste So Much Better

How Long Does Canned Crab Meat Last?

canned crab next to fork and wooden board
canned crab next to fork and wooden board - Aleksei Isachenko/Shutterstock

Along with being a convenient ingredient, canned crab meat has a lengthy shelf life. If a can is unopened, it can stay safe for consumption for up to five years. However, all canned foods should be stored in the best conditions, or they may spoil prematurely. Canned crab should be protected from temperatures over 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Moisture can also lead to premature spoilage, so don't keep cans in damp, humid areas of your home. The bottom line is to store it in a cool, dry, dark area. Your pantry likely works just fine.

All that being said, canned foods should be inspected thoroughly to ensure they're safe to use, even if you've stored them correctly. Before opening and using a can of crab, make sure it's not leaking, dented, or otherwise damaged. If the can has a swollen shape, it could be contaminated with bacteria, and should be thrown away. It's a shame, but at least you're not tossing out fresh crab!

If you open a can of crab meat, but don't use the entire thing at once, the remaining portion should be put in your refrigerator. Remove the crab from the can and place it into a sealable bag or container. It's best to use up the remainder within two days, to ensure optimal quality and food safety standards. Luckily, it's easy to use canned crab in all sorts of tasty main dishes, sides, and snacks.

How To Use Canned Crab In Recipes

salad with crab meat
salad with crab meat - Easybuy4u/Getty Images

You're bound to see a wide selection of crab meat at your local grocery store. When shopping for quality produces from the best canned crab brands, look for cans with "jumbo lump" on the label. With a toothsome texture and plenty of flavor, jumbo lump is considered the upper echelon of canned crab. It's sourced from muscles that power the legs of the crustacean, which turn out to be large, tender, and flavorful, with bigger chunks than meat picked from the crab's body.

Meanwhile, cans labeled "lump crab" contain some jumbo lump meat, but also include meat from the body. As for "backfin" crab, these cans will contain meat exclusively taken from the body, which means it will be much flakier with little to no large lumps of meat. Jumbo lump is ideal for dishes like fancy crab salads, where you want bigger hunks of meat to take center stage. As for lump crab and backfin, these types of crab are best incorporated into pasta dishes and soups. Backfin's flaky texture makes it ideal for use in crab cakes.

No versions of canned crab are exactly like the fresh stuff, but jumbo lump is idea for crab-centric recipes, while other grades work best when mixed into other ingredients. Versatile, convenient, and delicious, any type of canned crab meat can become a star in your kitchen.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.