Here's What You Need To Know For Storing Fresh, Live Crabs At Home

Pile of dungeness crabs
Pile of dungeness crabs - Gomezdavid/Getty Images

The flavor of crab meat can vary depending on how you purchase it and what type of meat it is. And what kind you need depends on your recipe. If you just need a hint of crab flavor, you can get away with the canned variety, but if you're making crab meat, you definitely want to go with nothing lower quality than lump meat. However, nothing beats the real thing; for the freshest flavor, you'll want to cook the crabs and pick the meat yourself. It's fresh, light, and anything but fishy tasting.

Most seafood markets sell whole, live crabs you can take home and cook on your own; the type of crab available might vary depending on where you live. If you plan to cook and pick the crabs, you should do so immediately after you buy them. If you purchase or catch blue crabs, which are caught on the East Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico but sold all throughout the United States, you can keep them alive in the refrigerator for up to two days. Check them often, though, because if they die, they have an extremely short shelf life.

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

How To Properly Store Fresh Crabs In The Refrigerator

Blue crabs in a pan
Blue crabs in a pan - 4kodiak/Getty Images

Whether you've caught them yourself or purchased them at a market, you need to take proper care of your crabs if you plan to keep them alive for a couple of days. Storing them in the refrigerator slow down their metabolism to help them live longer, which is why this is the best place for them. Keep them damp by placing a damp cloth into the refrigerator along with the crabs (it's best to just store them in the crisper drawer, separate from other food). This will keep the crabs moist; they die because their gills dry out, so while this is inevitable outside of water, a damp, cold environment will prolong them for at least two days but up to four.

If you plan to keep live crabs, you must check them frequently to ensure none have died. If a crab dies, you need to cook it immediately. This keeps the meat in its best shape and ensures the dead crab hasn't had a chance to grow bacteria; if you purchase or catch crabs and find that one is already dead, do not eat it because you don't know how long it's been dead. Only remove them from the refrigerator when you're ready to cook and eat your crabs.

How To Cook Your Crabs

Cooked crabs on a plate
Cooked crabs on a plate - Larisa Blinova/Shutterstock

Some people choose to quickly kill crabs before cooking as a more humane method, but it's ultimately up to the cook. To kill a crab before cooking, Fish For Thought suggests flipping the crab over, lifting the flap on the back of its shell, and using a screwdriver to pierce the crab. Send the screwdriver deep enough that it goes entirely through the crab. This should kill the crab in a short amount of time.

To cook the crabs, boiling them is likely the easiest method. Fill a deep pot with water, season it with salt, and bring it to a boil. Add the crabs, bring it back to a boil, and cook the crabs for about 20 minutes. Rinse the crabs under cold water to stop the cooking process. Then, pick the fresh crab meat and add it to crab cakes, crab dip, or even crab nachos.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.