Good Crab or Bad Crab, That's the Question!

Let's figure out whether you have a good crab or bad crab together. We have received a lot of questions on this subject over the years. Our main problem with being able to help you is that we don't get many pictures to help us help you with the dilemma. So, with that said, we can only do our best and see if
we can help put your minds at ease.
Here, we have some questions from visitors and have done our best to answer them and we also have some illustrations of good crab and bad crab. At the end, if
you happen to still have any questions, feel free to use our comments section so we or someone else can help you. (Crab Lover's Unite!)

One question that has come up from those who go out crabbing about hard and soft shell crabs and how to tell the difference.

Questions and Answers Section from Visitors....

Poisonous Crabs-by Jamie from Redding, CA

 I heard that crabs are poisonous in any months that don't have an "r" in them, in Humbolt County, that really true?

Our Reply:

I have been looking everywhere to find the answer, but I have not found a thing. I just got back from catching crabs...which was followed by eating them shortly after, and I ate a lot. This person swears that is what they were told and another person said they heard the same thing...freaking out a little. Please help!

Based on the fact that you are well enough to ask me this question, I am going to go out a limb and say that you will be fine! This sounds like an "old wives tale" as I have never heard such a thing. If I were you, I would continue to catch, cook, clean and eat ALL the crab you can during your legal, local crabbing season! ENJOY! 


Bought Live Crab and Found Dead


Hello, I bought some live dungeness crabs last night and kept them submerged in water overnight. I found them dead this morning, are they still safe to eat? Good crab or bad crab?

Our Reply:

Unfortunately your Dungeness crab are NOT good for eating. One thing we like to stress here at Crab-O-Licious is....dead crab are BAD crab! When they die, toxins are released into their bodies rendering all their meat inedible!
 Two suggestions: If you are unable for any reason to not boil them right away, clean them live first before refrigerating or freezing. But if you to keep them alive overnight then you should invest into an aerator which is a small air pump that will continuously replenish the oxygen supply in their water much the same as an air pump for a fish tank. That way your Dungeness crab stay happy and healthy overnight for your Enjoy!-ment the next day!  

Crabs Safe to Eat?-by Mark from South Carolina

I caught twenty blue crabs Monday night and placed them on ice. I plan to cook them tonight, are they safe to eat? Good crab or bad crab?

Our Reply:

NO!.....Dead crab are BAD crab! ALWAYS either cook them first before putting on ice (or freezing) OR clean them while they are still alive....then the legs/knuckles can be kept on ice for a few days before cooking!


Uncooked Blue Crabs

I caught some blue crab last night but did not cook them until this afternoon. They have been in a refrigerator. Can I cook them safely?


Our Reply:

Congratulations on your blue crab catch! Yes, boil them thoroughly and enjoy! If you have left-overs you want for later, you can keep them in the frig. for a few days. If they're not on your menu in that time, we would suggest you freeze them after they've cooled down. Enjoy! 


More Good Crab or Bad Crab Woes-by Margot from Houston, Texas

Is it safe to eat crab legs right now? I bought some from Walmart and they smelled like ammonia and tasted like something oily and funky.


Our Reply:

Does Walmart sell good crab or bad crab? 

We suspect you are worried about an oil spill effecting the crab legs, however, if you bought them at Walmart, they more than likely have been inspected and approved. The "ammonia smell" you get from certain crab legs is because the crabs were aged. To aide in omitting those smells in aged crab legs, boil them in some of your favorite crab boil spices! No crab woes here! Enjoy! 

Crabs Safe?

I just went crabbing yesterday and I did not cook the crabs until today, I put the crabs in my refrigerator are they safe to cook and eat?


Our Reply:

No. Crabs either need to cooked ASAP (can be cleaned later) or cleaned "live" and stored on ice for cooking later. They will die in the fridge and dead crab is BAD crab.....Sorry!


Is it safe to eat the fur?-by Shannon from BC, Canada

Our Reply:

I can only assume that you are referring to the "fur" that grows on the shell? While I personally don't think it would "hurt" you, I can't imagine why you would want to eat it? The meat is what we're after here!

Live Blue Crab Question-by Lynn from Coral Springs, FL USA

A friend gave me some live blue crabs last night. I stored them in my fridge in a bag with holes in it. I understand they will lie dormant until they come back to room temp but I've had them out of the fridge for over an hour now and no movement. Did keeping them in the fridge overnight and all day actually kill them?


Our Reply:

Unfortunately, yes, it most likely did. Always try to get them boiled up ASAP and then store them in freezer or fridge if you're going to eat them the next day. The other alternative to clean them while they're live and store just the legs (freezer) until you are ready to cook them.

Empty Crab Legs-from Anonymous

Every once in a while I encounter an 'empty' crab leg while eating at a local buffet. Just curious, but I just don't understand where the meat goes! This often occurs with legs that are whole and intact - so its not a matter of the meat falling out of a broken leg.

Our Reply: See video above!

Most likely the crab was caught during the final stages of a molting cycle. During this time when they shed their old shells and grow new ones, the meat in the legs have not fully "filled-up" the shell. This is one reason we throw back soft-shelled Dungeness.

Ammonia Tasting Crabs-from Anonymous

I purchased live crabs and cooked them within one hour. When they were cooked they tasted like ammonia. Why?

Our Reply:

Crabs that smell of taste like ammonia are the result of being older crabs not whether they are a good crab or bad crab. We're honestly not sure why this is, but that it just can be when dealing with older crabs.
In our own experience with catching and dealing with Dungeness Crab we have come across those ammonia tasting and smelling crabs and found that we just get used to them! It's not "real ammonia" you are dealing with, but just the smells and tastes of. The best way to tow it down is to deal with them in the boiling process. We use Louisiana Crab Boil and add minced onion and other herbs as well as the Sea Salts to aide in over riding the smells and flavors of ammonia. This boiling process seems to work fine for us so when we do come across a nice 7-8 inch catch it's pure "JOY!" all the way to our plates! Hope this helps!


Safe to eat crab?-by Michelle from California

I have some "bodies" that I cooked last Saturday that have been in a very cold refrigerator, safe to make crab cakes? They smell ok, are they good crab or bad crab?

Our Reply:

We wouldn't recommend eating crab after being in the frig. for over 3-5 days. However, since they "smell ok" it's really your call! If you use them to make crab cakes, be cautious via eyes and nose. At any first sign of spoiling, we highly recommend you stop and throw them all out. However, if you are picking through the meat and all looks and smells crabby-fresh and the meat is still very cold, then, don't waste anymore time...enjoy those crab cakes!
Find some really good crab cakes and dips here on! Thanks for visiting!  


Got more Good Crab or Bad Crab Woes? Use the comments section below and we'll do our best to help you out and others, feel free to chime in and help a brother or sister out!...


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