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6 of the Most Popular Types of Edible Crabs

Crab Legs

With summer in full swing, many of us are dreaming of beach vacations. You might be looking forward to lying on the sand, drinking a delicious cocktail, and spending your evenings dining on fresh fish, lobster, and succulent crab. But did you know that not all types of crab are edible?

When you order crab at a restaurant or buy it at the store, you’re getting one of only a few types of edible crabs. Read on to learn more about these different species of crabs and what they can bring to your table. 

1. Dungeness Crabs 

Dungeness crabs have a wide-ranging habitat and are found most commonly in the waters off of Alaska and Mexico. These are among the largest of the edible crabs, weighing in between two and four pounds. They’re usually a brownish purple color, and they take their name from the small community in Washington state that first began harvesting them.

Dungeness crabs must be at least six and a quarter inches long in order to be harvested, and their prime season is during the winter months. Their flesh is pink and tends to have a sweet, succulent flavor. Most of the meat from these crabs comes from their bodies, rather than from their legs or claws.

2. King Crabs

You won’t be surprised to learn that the largest edible crab species is the king crab. These enormous crabs can grow to weigh as much as twenty-five pounds and may be ten feet end to end! There are at least eighteen king crab species living in the waters around Alaska, and others live around Japan and Russia.

In spite of its gigantic size, king crabs have a very delicate flavor and is snowy white. Only about a fourth of the crab is actually edible, with most of the usable meat coming from the legs and claws. This crab isn’t as fibrous as some other species, and the sweet flesh will almost melt in your mouth.

3. Stone Crabs

Stone crabs are native to Florida and are harvested between October and May. Most stone crabs actually don’t die as a result of the harvesting process; only their claws are edible, so that’s all fishermen take. They will twist one claw off the crab and then throw it back, where it will grow a new claw within eighteen months.

Stone crab claws must either be boiled or frozen within a few minutes of being harvested, and freezing can help to remove any unpleasant taste in the claws. You can figure out which claws have the most meat by floating them in water. Stone crab meat has a sweet flavor, and claws are often cracked open at the table and served with a cold dipping sauce. 

4. Snow Crabs

Snow crabs, also known as rock crabs, are found around Iceland and South Carolina. You may also hear these crabs called spider crabs, although at least two other species also go by that name. These crabs have long, spindly legs and tend to live in deep waters and around rocks, and they’re relatively easy to cook. 

Snow crabs are popular in seafood restaurants and buffets because of their sweet, delicate flavor. In fact, some people say that rock crab meat tastes more like lobster than crab. Most of the edible meat on a snow crab is in its claws, and there are a variety of ways to cook these delicious crabs. 

5. Peekytoe Crabs

The peekytoe crab only gained its name in the last twenty-five years; prior to that, it was called a Maine rock or sand crab. These crabs usually grow to be about five inches across and are red or orange on top with a white belly. The peekytoe crab was considered a throwaway catch until its rebranding in the late 1990s.

Today, the peekytoe is one of the most popular crab options in restaurants, used in salads, dips, and crab cakes. They have a very sweet meat and pink flesh that’s perfect for a variety of cooking applications. This crab is usually boiled and picked soon after it’s caught to preserve its delicate flavor.

6. Blue Crabs 

The blue crab, true to its name, is a beautiful blue-green color, especially on its legs and claws. These crabs are usually somewhere between three and a half and five and a half inches, and they are native to the east coast of the United States. Most of the time, lump crab, crab chowder, and crab cakes use blue crabs. 

In spite of their name, blue crabs do turn a bright red color when they’re cooked. Their flavor tends to be a nice combination of sweet and salty, which is part of why they’re so popular in crab dishes. You can also cook blue crabs whole and eat them, though it’s important to note that you’ll find the best meat in their bodies and claws, not their legs. 

Discover More Types of Edible Crabs

When prepared properly, crab can be some of the most delicious seafood on the table. The crabs we’ve discussed here offer a wide variety of flavors, textures, uses, and presentations. Whether you’re cracking crab legs at the dinner table or dining on a delicate bisque, the right crab can take your dish to a new level of flavor.

If you’d like to discover more types of edible crabs, check out the rest of our site at Order Maine Lobster. We have lobster, fresh fish, shellfish, and more to make all your summer meals as decadent as possible. Shop our lobster meat and experience the taste of Maine delivered to your home.

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