View Full Version : Dungeness Crab Anatomy

11-17-2012, 04:10 PM
For those who are new to crabbing here's some good info...especially about the "Butter" .

The first thing a crabber should know is how to tell a male from a female, since it is currently lawful to keep females, it's advisable to release the ones with eggs. Look at the underside of the crab. If the abdomen, the flap of shell that folds under from the rear end of the crab, is wide and rounded, the crab is a female. If the abdomen is narrow, it is a male.

When you pull the back off a boiled crab, you will see a number of anatomical structures and some mushy yellowish stuff, some of which is clinging to the inside of the shell. You may notice first the new cuticle that is forming for the next molt. It has the appearance of shell, but is soft and fleshy. The yellow mush, sometimes called crab butter, is the hepatopancreas, the digestive gland, equivalent to our liver and pancreas. It is used for energy storage and the secretion of digestive enzymes. Some people consider this a delicacy, but if it is from crabs taken from polluted areas, it may contain contaminants such as PCBs or heavy metals.

Cooking crabs. Crabs are usually boiled or steamed for about twenty minutes. Many people prefer seawater or one-to-one seawater to freshwater for boiling. Alternatively, you may add salt to tapwater. If you find plunging a live crab into boiling water distasteful, you can kill it first by hitting it solidly on the underside, just above the point of the abdomen, with a blunt object. This is the location of the thoracic ganglion, a nerve center, and it is equivalent to whacking the crab on the head, if it had a head. You can even clean your crab before cooking. Clean crabs by separating the carapace from the body by pulling it upward from the backside. Remove the viscera, gills, gill bailers and cleaners, the mouth parts, and the abdomen. Save the crab butter if you like. Rinse the remaining crab with a spray of cold water until it's clean.

11-17-2012, 06:06 PM




11-23-2012, 03:32 PM
Very nice post. I think there are always a few people who would like to ask basic questions but end up afraid to ask.

11-30-2012, 10:35 AM
The crab combo trips are the bomb.
If you have a turkey fryer, it makes a good crab boiling pot. Put in your salt and if you prefer, Old Bay or other seasonings. 20 minutes should do the trick. Cool, then refridgerate overnight.
Next day clean all the crab. Invite your friends over and the feast begins.
Get a fryer basket and beer batter the fish you caught too.
The only thing I'm going to change next time is to make some crab cakes (crab meat, beaten eggs, and bread crumbs) in the fryer.

Team Mc Fishing
11-30-2012, 12:35 PM
Great information for everyone who had questions about crabbing. We won't go until after the first of the year, too much rainy weather and too many people early in the season. We like going when it gets past the early rush.

Team Mc Fishing
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