Soft-Shell Crabs- Article Restaurant Business by Mary Ann Tasoulas given to me at the Dockside. “In its soft state, the blue crab is a delicacy ...and eaten shell and all. They are one of the world’s true delicacies. Sweet, mild & somewhat exotic, they may be served as an appetizer, sandwich, or entree.” These are blue crabs (as we have in our canal off our dock in our backyard). But these have shed their rigid, restricting outer shell in preparation for growth. The new soft, gray skin only stays this way for a couple of hours, allowing the crab to swell with water & increase in size by about 25%. This process, known as molting, occurs 18 times during the 3-yr lift span of the crab. Initial shedding occurs in May & usually continues thru Sept. Lunar changes & water conditions affect harvesting. A new moon is felt to influence molting, making shedding crabs more abundant. Once caught & out of the water, they will not form new shells. But they only live a couple of days, so they must be either shipped alive or cleaned &frozen. Fresh ones should be cleaned just before cooking so that they don’t lose their natural juices & delicate flavor. Live or cleaned soft-shell crabs should be refrigerated in a moist environment & can be kept this way for up to 2 days. Freezing them is very easy & produces excellent results. However, don’t clean before freezing - simply rinse with cold water & wrap folding the legs & claws near the body. Wrapped tightly, they can be kept frozen for several months. They taste best when prepared with a minimum of seasonings.
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