Latin Name – callinectes sapidus – savory beautiful swimmer.
Identification & Biology: Technically they are about 12-20cm across, flat bodied, with paddle like back legs – responsible for the elegance in the swimming department. Like many crustaceans, they molt, or shed their shell and re-grow another. For a brief period in between shedding the old shell and the new shell hardening they are referred to as ‘soft shell crabs’. At this stage, the entire crab can be eaten – a real delicacy.
Range & Habitat: Blue crabs are abundant down the Eastern U.S. seaboard particularly in the Chesapeake Bay.
Market Description: They are available year round, more so from June to October and they are generally available as soft shells from July to August. Another very popular way you’ll find Blue Crab is pasteurized meat.
Buying Tips: Anyone looking to do crab cakes will buy it as pasteurized meat. The meat is packed according to where it was picked from the body. Claw meat is obviously taken from claws but also includes leg meat. It is the cheapest because the meat is small and has the least integrity. Special crabmeat is meat taken from front of the body. Again, a little bigger, more integrity. Jumbo Lump crab meat is from the back of the body. It has the most integrity and is the largest meat on the crab due to propelling those powerful swimming fins. Finally, Backfin meat is essentially broken pieces of Jumbo Lump crab.