Cooking Louisiana  -  Fresh Crab Preparation
Preparing fresh crabs for a stew or gumbo. Fresh crab preparation or cleaning the way I do it cleans the crab and discards unneeded parts that take up pot space.

I take fresh live 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 like.

Remove the top shell, lungs and intestines. Break away the mouth and bottom side apron. Break the claws off. Keep them iced up.

Crab PreparationNow get your fish skinner out to do some clipping.

First clip the legs off leaving just enough to be able to pull the leg if needed. 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.

Crab PreparationNow 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 do we?)

Crab PreparationNext take the skinner and clip away an upside down "V" shape in the shell where the mouth was. The reason for this is that it makes it easier to break the crab in half.

Crab PreparationHere's what it looks like when it's clipped away.

Now you should have crab bodies and claws.

Crab PreparationThe 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.

Crab PreparationOnce 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.

Break 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.