Preparing fresh crabs for a stew or gumbo.
Click on the pictures with borders to see a larger image.
I take fresh crabs and ice them down real good just until they're too
cold to move, but still alive. You can also scald them if you
Remove the top shell, lungs and intestines. Break away the mouth and
bottom side apron. Break the claws off. Keep them iced up.
Here are several crabs ready to be cleaned.
Now get your fish skinner out to do some clipping.
clip the legs off. Using the fish skinner allows for a nice clean cut.
Trying to pull the legs off many times leaves you with a hunk of meat left
on the leg.
Now clip away the crowns of the shell. The crown is the part that stands
the highest if you were to lay the crab down on its belly. It's just a
small piece of shell but takes up space in the pot (and we don't want that
Next take the skinner and clip away an upside down "V" shape in the shell
where the mouth was. There's a reason for this that I'll explain
Here's what it looks like when it's clipped away.
Now you should have crab bodies and claws.
next step is cleaning the shells to remove any dirt. Use an old toothbrush
(I keep one handy just for this purpose) and scrub the crab body and claws
to remove as much dirt as possible.
Once that process is complete break the larger crabs in half by folding
them inward and then back. Notice how easy they break apart because you
clipped away the "V" in the shell earlier. The piece you clipped
away is probably the hardest piece of the shell on the body.
the claws in two at the joint.
That's it, you're done
They're ready for the stew or gumbo.
To freeze them put them in a labeled zip lock bag and cover with water.
Get all the air out. Handle the bag carefully because there are many shell
barbs that will pop the bag.