One of the most frequently found crustaceans in the North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia is the Blue Crab. Blue crabs reside on the seafloor and can be caught in a variety of ways. If you’re not into doing the catching, local seafood markets will have them available for purchase. They can be cooked in a multitude of ways and with various seasonings. Many are concerned that eating blue crab is challenging to extract the crab’s meat and time-consuming. Pre-cleaning crabs make the task much easier when it comes down to sitting at the dinner table enjoying the crustaceans. Many ask how to clean blue crab?

What is needed for cleaning a blue crab?

1) A Big Bucket of Ice Water

Load up a pail of either salt or freshwater, whatever is available. Dump in a substantial amount of ice and chill the water down nice and cold.

Drop the live blue crabs into the ice water before handling them for cleaning. The crabs will remain alive but dormant.

2) Gloves

A blue crab has many sharp points that can easily cause the skin to become punctured. The wounds can be painful and require time to heal. Wearing gloves will help to avoid cuts to the hands.

3) A Hose

It’s always a good idea to clean blue crabs outside and, if possible, on a dock equipped with a hose. The unedible parts of the crab can become fish food when cleaning them waterside.

Not everyone can get the job done outdoors and by the water. A kitchen sink will be just as effective. 

4) A cooler Filled With Ice

Once the crabs have been cleaned, it’s essential to keep them cold. After cleaning each crab, lay them on top of the ice in the cooler. This will help keep them tasting as fresh as possible until they are cooked the same day.  

What is the benefit of cleaning blue crab?

Some seafood enthusiasts are the dig in and get messy type eaters. The blue crab is one of the messiest when cooking and eating before cleaning. 

To avoid the hassle of pulling shells and digging out the inedible parts such as the lungs. Clean them beforehand. The sweet white meat will be staring you in the face and easy to pluck from the remaining bottom shell and claws. 

No matter if you’re cooking whole or cleaned blue crab, they can be prepared in the same ways such as these blue crab recipes- steamed blue crab, boiled blue crab, old bay blue crab, grilled blue crab, and more. 

Softshell crabs are available seasonally; however, cleaning soft shell crabs follows a slightly different process with a very similar result.

What are the steps to cleaning blue crab? 

1) Icing the crabs

Drop the live blue crabs into the bucket of ice, so they become dormant and are easier to handle for cleaning.

2) Removing the top shell

Once the crabs have been soaking in ice water for five minutes, confirm that they are dormant.

Remember to put gloves on your hands to avoid scratches and punctures from the sharp shell. 

Grab one of the rear swimmer fins in one hand and the shell where the same swimmer fin meets. Lift up on the shell where it joins the body pull it away from the blue crab. Discard the shell if you’re not planning to stuff it with meat and bake it. 

Repeat the process for each of the crabs but remember to place them on ice in a cooler to maximize freshness.

3) Cleaning the inside of the blue crab

Use a garden hose or kitchen faucet to complete this step. While holding onto the remaining portion of the blue crab firmly, spray away the yellow mustard. Yes, some do prefer to eat this portion, so that is optional.

While the hose is running, spray the lungs free. They are a bit troublesome to rinse away, so it may require you to pull them off with your fingers.

Conclusion

When you’re preparing blue crab for any meal, the question is when is it best to clean the crab? No matter what, the process will be the same whether they are done before or after. The pile of shells and social experience can be entertaining. If you’re looking for a little more upscale dining for guests or family, it is probably best to have them cleaned beforehand. The process is simple and won’t require much time at all.