Soft Shell Crab Season is HERE!
One of the all time most delicious things on earth! Simply fried or grilled served with lemon, hot sauce, rémoulade, tartar or cocktail sauce, there’s nothing finer.
Soft shell crabs are blue crabs that have recently shed their shells (molted). In this very vulnerable (and tasty) state, they are besieged by predators—they often hide in eel grass because they are the favorite prey of any fish, bird or mammal out there (including us humans).
To harvest soft shells, they are captured before they molt. After the crabs are caught the watermen can read the color of the shells and determine approximately when the crabs will shed. Then they are placed in holding pens or tanks and monitored constantly until the molting moment is nigh. At that point, they must be removed immediately from the water as they start to harden within 2-3 hours. They’re shipped live and sized by how many inches wide the crabs are from point to point.
Soft shell sizing specs (from small to large):
Mediums: 3.5–4 inches wide
Hotels: 4–4.5 inches wide
Primes: 4.5–5 inches wide
Jumbos: 5–5.5 inches wide
Whales: over 5.5 inches wide
We always get a jump on the season by buying crabs in early April from Appalachicola, Florida. After the first full moon in early May, the Chesapeake crabs start coming in and we see them all summer (until around Labor Day).
We’re hoping for a great season! Come on in, we’ll cook some up for lunch for you or try these easy recipes: