North Carolina Sea Grant

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 crabmeat, make your choices based on product form and supplier.

Fresh crabmeat should have a glistening white to off-white or creamy color, with a fragile texture, mild crab aroma and delicate flavor. Claw crabmeat 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 crabmeat.

JUMBO refers to the largest, white pieces or chunks of crabmeat typically from the backfin. LUMP or BACKFIN refers to large, white pieces or chunks of crabmeat that may include backfin. SPECIAL, FLAKE or REGULAR refers to smaller, white pieces or chunks of crabmeat 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 crabmeat from your local supplier. Enjoy!

Contributed by David Green

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