I handle live crab regularly. It’s part of my lifestyle and I don’t think twice about it.
That is why it’s so easy for me to forget that a lot of people coming here to How-to-Crab.com want to learn how to handle crabs that are alive and how to keep them that way for transporting.
Crabs can stay alive for up to three to four days if you give them the ideal living conditions.
Transporting your crabs from the sea or from the store is going to be your first challenge. Crabs like to be kept cool and damp. You can create this environment for the crabs by soaking an old towel in sea water (don’t use fresh water) and covering their crate. If it’s hot out then plan ahead and freeze some water in ziplock bags flat and place them among the crabs and on top of the crate. This method is more commonly used for keeping Blue crabs alive where the temperatures are unfavorable at the best of times for keeping the crabs alive.
Once you have your crabs home then you can again wrap them in a towel soaked in seawater to keep them damp and place them in your refrigerator drawer. The crabs can stay alive for a couple of days like this. You will want to check them for life periodically, because if one happens to die then you will want to cook it right away. Visit this page to find out why you don’t want to eat dead crabs. Allow your crab to be dead for 20 minutes maximum or you might suffer.
Cooking Live Crabs is the easy part.
First off you want to boil a big pot of water filled a third of the way with water and enough salt to mimic the ocean salinity.
A kinder way to kill your crabs is to put them in the freezer for a five minutes. This process makes the crabs really lethargic almost as though they were sleeping.
Put your crabs in the boiling water. Cover with a lid.
Start timing once the water starts to boil again. There are different cook times for the different types of crab. Find your cooking times for your type of crab by visiting our crab cooking 101 guide or if you have any unanswered questions regarding cooking your crabs.
- Dungeness crab
- Keep damp and cool