North Carolina Sea Grant
Mariner's Menu

Mariner's Menu

September 17, 2009 | David Green

how to select, handle, clean and store seafood


Most crabs are harvested alive and processed (cooked and hand-picked) for your convenience.

When selecting fresh crab meat, make your choices based on product form and supplier.

Fresh crab meat should have a glistening white to off-white or creamy color, with a fragile texture, mild crab aroma and delicate flavor. Claw meat is darker in color, brownish in tint, and has a more distinct nut-like flavor.

Meat quality varies by the crab size, harvest location, season and condition. A variety of product forms is used by industry to describe crab meat.

JUMBO refers to the largest, white pieces or chunks of crab meat typically from the backfin. LUMP or BACKFIN refers to large, white pieces or chunks of crab meat that may include backfin. SPECIAL, FLAKE or REGULAR refers to smaller, white pieces or chunks of crab meat and does not include backfin. CLAW refers to meat only from the crab claw.


You can identify the manufacturer and/or distributor by the state certification number located on the side of the container. Check the name, address and country of origin before buying. Labeling gives you another means to ensure you are buying fresh blue crab meat from your local supplier. Enjoy!

Contributed by David Green

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