A Summer Favorite: Maryland Crabs

No East Coast summer is complete without a Maryland Blue Crab Feast! It’s always a great social event when enjoying a few dozen steamed hard-shell crabs while gathering with your friends and family! Who could resist these red-shelled beauties with sweet and delicate meat?

According to Eater.com, blue crabs can be found in waters as far north as Nova Scotia and far south as Uruguay, but the strongest association has always been with Maryland. According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, approximately 50 percent of the country’s blue crab harvest comes from Maryland waters.

What makes blue crab special?

Some people may prefer Dungeness crabs from the West Coast because they tend to be larger and easier to eat. However, blue crabs are superior in the depth of flavor and delicate texture, but the seasons impact blue crabs.

The season typically starts around April and lasts until the cold weather, usually in November. Over the years, the seasonality has affected the appreciation for blue crab, which has cemented its place in the “Chesapeake way of life.”

Crab sizes

Size classification for blue crabs is as follows:

-#1 being the largest, heaviest males

#2 signifying smaller males

#3 labeling the females and most undersized crabs

What are Soft Shell crabs?

According to huffpost.com, late spring and early summer are beloved for so many reasons, but mine is the appearance of the soft-shell crab. If you’ve had the pleasure of eating one, you know that they hold all the flavor of your everyday crab without any of the hassles of prying meat from its sharp, thick shell — basically, it’s seafood in its most perfect state.

Soft shell crabs are NOT a different crab species. They are regular blue crabs that have gotten too big for their shells. To grow, they shed their shell and make bigger ones. This is called the molting process.

Huffpost.com says that to shed its shell, the crab forms a soft inner shell underneath, swells its body with water to break its current shell, slowly crawls out — this can take 10 minutes alone — and then begins the process of forming a new shell. It takes a couple of days for a new shell to harden fully. That’s when we want to catch them.

You can watch a video of this process here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Z1qcbacxxI

Soft shells are typically lightly dredged and pan-fried with seasoned butter or sauteed. At many seafood restaurants in Maryland, soft shells are served as a sandwich or over greens with the brown butter from the pan.

No matter how you eat them, enjoying Maryland blue crabs can be a cherished summertime pastime! Make a crab feast part of your summer traditions! Call any of our 3 locations to place your order today!