MD Soft Crabs

Soft Shell Blue Crabs

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Soft Shells ~ Bursting Shells, these crabs boast delicate texture and robust salty-sweet flavor. Pan-seared, deep-fried or even sautéed, soft shells head the list for the “must haves!"

Get the Story ~

Our Kent Island crab boats weigh down with hefty blue crab bushels daily. Racing the rising sun, our hard working crew search out peelers or crabs with back swimming legs showing a “cracking” in the back shell. These crabs soon will fill their shell cavities with water, causing a quick break in the shell from the pressure. Swiftly, they walk out of the old shell, nude and vulnerable to other crabs that will, without hesitation, scarf them down as a morning snack. These soft shells sense this danger and swim for cover. For 1-2 days they must hide until a new shell grows. Fun fact: male crabs may protect their female mate as she molts by holding her tightly until the new shell grows! This process is quite unique and special. A soft shell exhibits a more tender meat, marinated by the complete submersion in bay waters.

Chefs around the world pay top dollar for crab crews who follow a strict process in delivering soft shells to the table. One, they set aside the peelers when potted, who show signs of molting. Two, they place these crabs in a brackish tank, giving them time to molt into a soft shell. Three, without hesitation, they harvest the softshell from the tank and clean and dress it for a quick delivery.

Time consuming, but once you feast on a few, you’ll know why soft shells receive awards for taste!

Choose the Correct Size

Most seafood markets approximate the soft crabs’ sizes with a .5 to 1-inch deviation. Cleaning the crab may decrease the size appearance, but once stretched point-to-point, the crustacean reaches its true size.  Choose from the smallest to largest:  Mediums (3.5"-4"), Hotels (4"-4.5"), Primes (4.5"-5"), Jumbos (5"-5.5"), and Whales (5"-up).