Keeping Crab Alive

by Candy
(San Francisco, CA)

Can I keep dungeness crabs alive for 8 hours in an ice chest full of ice?

No. The crabs will not stay alive on ice. Your best bet is to put them in an ice chest with their own salt water from where you caught them and keep the water aerated. If you don't have an aerator, keep bucketing in fresh, cold salt water every now and then to keep them alive.
One other option is to clean those crabs and then you can keep their legs on ice till you can get them home.

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Crabs Still Live While Frozen?

Are the crabs still alive even when frozen? How long can they survive frozen?

No! Crabs can not live on ice! They're dead! Go ahead and store them in the freezer properly or steam them up and eat 'em!

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How long can you keep live crab on ice?

by Stephanie Nesmith
(Kingsland, Georgia)

How long can you keep live crab on ice?

Trying to keep LIVE crab on ice is not an option. They will die on ice and you will have lost your opportunity to enjoy one of nature's exquisite morsels! Keep live crab in aerated water until cooked. If your crab die before cooking, they will no longer be safe to eat. If cooking or aerating is not an option, they CAN be "live cleaned" or there is a method of killing them instantly if cracking and cleaning them live makes one squeamish. This information can be found elsewhere on the Crab-o-licious website. Enjoy!

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Keeping Crab Alive

by Crab-O-Licious
(Pacific Northwest)

Keeping Crab Alive

Keeping Crab Alive

Keeping crab alive is an imperative step you need to take prior to cleaning crab.
You need to consider possible harmful bacteria and biotoxins that can enter into shellfish due to increased levels of polution and industrial byproducts that have made their way into our oceans. These toxins and bacterias can easily make their way into crabs and lead to serious illnesses, or even death, if not taken care of properly after catching crabs.
Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning, or ASP, is another potentially harmful biotoxin consumed by shellfish that can pass to humans via consumption that can result in abdominal cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness and loss of memory. But do not let any of these disorders or the threat of biotoxins and bacterias alarm and keep you from recreational crabbing. Regions where ASP is known to carry these diseases are closed by state authorities and if handled properly after the crabs being caught, the likelihood of exposure to any of these are unlikely.
Crab-O-Licious can not echo enough along with Scott Haugen in Recreational Dungeness Crabbing, that the care of crabs begin at the moment that you catch them!
Rinsing and freezing crabs does not destroy the biotoxins within the crab meat. Nor does cooking crabs rid them of all biotoxins, but it does help prevent illnesses caused by naturally occurring bacteria or bacteria from pollution. For these reasons, it's very important to clean crabs prior to cooking them and boiling the crabs before freezing them. And keeping crab alive before you can clean, boil and freeze them is a MUST for your safety.
There are 2 easy ways to go about keeping them alive...

1)If you don't live far from where you are crabbing, a half hour to an hour away, you can keep crabs alive by changing out the sea water in your coolers. Crabs consume oxygen pretty fast in such small containers, it's important to keep bucketing out the old salt water and bucketing in new, fresh water. You can also stir up the water making bubbles.

2)For longer hauls and even a better way to keep crab alive is to use an aerator. You can keep crabs breathing all day long! More and more crabbers are going this route to ensure their catches stay lively.
There's nothing more frustrating than to be out crabbing all day long, max out on your limit and find when you get home the crabs are dead! Don't let this happen to you!

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Crabs Still Alive While in Plastic?

In Costco, they have these whole crabs that are packaged, they looked uncooked. How can they breathe while being wrapped in plastic? Don't they suffocate?

I can't think of any kind of species that could be wrapped in plastic and survive...not even whole crabs!
Not only are they dead, but more than likely they have been processed as well. Leaving the cleaning, steaming and eating for your enjoyment!
Gotta love these questions!

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Crab on Ice? Dead!

We went out crabbing yesterday and didnt get back home until 10:00 pm so we put the live crabs in a cooler with ice. Today they all seem to be dead is it ok to clean them now dead and eat them? They have been on ice all night please let me know thanks.

Unfortunately....NO! they are not ok to eat. Once the crab dies, they release toxins which permeate their whole body and are NO GOOD for consumption! ALWAYS best to cook them (even if it means staying up late) OR.....clean them while they are still alive (not recommended for the squeamish) That way the legs and knuckles CAN be frozen raw and cooked later....

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Keeping crabs alive until steaming!

by Tom

Getting crabs today. Not steaming them until tomorrow. How can I keep them alive until then?

In order to successfully pull this off, you would need to have an aerator to keep the crab well oxygenated. This handy-dandy little devise will continuously pump air into the water in which you are keeping your crab and they absolutely NEED oxygen to stay alive in "captivity".
My personal suggestion would be to either clean them "live" and freeze them until tomorrow or go ahead and cook them the night before and just steam them before serving them! ENJOY!

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Crab still good?

I received a couple of cooked Dungeness Crabs from a friend still in their shell. They were cooked 3 days ago. I have them in a pot covered in the refrigerator. Are they still ok to eat?

Crab still good after a few days? I would say so! Don't wait too much longer to eat them, though. Enjoy!

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Eating crabs after power went out for several hours?

I bought crabs at a fish market yesterday yesterday at around 2PM (they were cooked while I waited). They cooled and were eaten over several hours (4 hours). Then they were placed in a refrigerator but 30 min later) the power went out. They stayed in the refrigerator over night and power came back on about 10 hours later. Since the power came back on around 3/4AM I'm not sure if they remained cold or not.

Do you think it's still safe to eat them? I have about a 1/2 bushel and feel horrible about throwing them away.

What do you think?

I would give them a GOOD "smell test" first! If the flesh smells good and has not gotten slimy AND if nothing else went bad in the fridge during this time, then I would think they should still be okay.......

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How long are dead crabs good?

by Stephanie

A friend caught a bunch of crabs yesterday and gave me a few. I put them in the fridge immediately. This morning they are all dead. Is it still ok to cook and eat them?

Unfortunately they will not be good any longer. When crab die, toxins are released into their entire body rendering all of its meat unfit for human consumption. Always remember: Dead crab are BAD crab.
Hopefully your friend can share some more of his catch with you again. If so then remember these two important rules of live crab and their preservation: (1) Cook them ASAP and then let them cool before refrigerating or freezing for later Enjoy!-ment.....or (2) clean them "live" and then freeze or refrigerate the raw crab for later. If refrigerating...treat crab as you would any other seafood in regards to how long you wait before cooking/serving it (generally only a couple of days in the fridge). If you are freezing it I would recommend vacuum sealing it as well. This way you should be able to wait up to a year before Enjoy!-ing that "just-caught" freshness.

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Crab Still Fresh?

by Beth

I was given cooked shelled crab meat on Christmas Eve (4 days ago). Can you tell me if it is still good to eat from the refrigerator? It smells ok.

Sure! Granted it was stored properly in the frig. Go ahead and steam 'em up! I wouldn't wait a day or two longer.

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Life expectancy of a crab out of water.....

by Robert
(Matawan, NJ)

My wife came home with some Jersey crabs that a friend had caught this morning. They are presently in a bucket without water. How long will they live this way? Should I put some fresh water in the bucket (don't have any of the salt water they came from but thought some type of water might extend their life until ready to cook this evening).

Crab out of water .... Not good for crab. I don't know for sure but I wouldn't expect them to last more than a couple hours tops! putting fresh water on them would definitely help.....even if it's not their natural salt water. If you are going to keep them this way for several hours, then you should be sure to periodically stir then water up to aerate it. I scoop water out of my cooler with an ice cream bucket and pour it back in from a height of 2-3 feet. This stirs the water and crab up and re-introduces vital oxygen back into the water and oxygen IS what they need to be kept alive for an extended period of time. ENJOY!

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If buying live crab at the store how is the best way to keep them alive at home?

If buying live crab at the store how is the best way to keep them alive at home?

The best way I know of for keeping crab alive at home for any period of time is by constantly aerating their water. This can be done manually; by literally "stirring up" their water to replenish their oxygen supply or it can be done automatically; through the use of an aerator. A small air pumping device that constantly feeds air and much needed oxygen into the crab's water supply much like one does for a fish tank. Enjoy!

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Alive or dead?

by Jim
(Lake Oswego, Oregon, USA)

Caught our crabs about 5 hours ago, kept them in a bucket but assume they died say 2-3 hours ago, are they still ok to cook and eat?

Unfortunately these will not be good to eat. Dead crab are BAD crab! As crab die, they release toxins into their body which renders all the meat unfit for consumption.
To avoid having this happen in the future I have a suggestion which will keep you Enjoy!-ing your catch from here on out! 5 hours is NOT a long time to keep your crab alive in a bucket/cooler. The problem is that the crab run out of oxygen and suffocate. To avoid this we aerate the water (put oxygen back in it) over and over again by simply using a small bucket or LARGE cup and scooping up water from the bucket/cooler they are in and pouring it back in from a height of roughly 2 feet above the container. This, if done repeatedly over time, replenishes the oxygen in the water and your crab stay happy and healthy until you get them home where shortly after that....your crab will help YOU to stay happy and healthy! Enjoy!

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How to keep live for a few days?

by Dain
(HMB )

Taking live on plane to TX. How to keep alive for a few days?

Unfortunately if you are taking a commercial flight, I can't think of any way you could possibly keep them alive for a few days. However, if your on small private plane, you may be able to use a small battery operated aerator or actually stir the water the crab are in to replenish their oxygen supply. Otherwise your best bet is to either clean them live and freeze them or cook them first and them freeze them (whole or cleaned) That way when you get to Texas, you will be sure to be able to Enjoy! you crab.

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Are crab still alive?

by Corey

I bought a couple of live crabs from an asian market in the evening and put them in the fridge(in a paper bag) when I got home. when I pulled them out of the fridge in the morning and put them in the sink they were making a crackling or bubbling sound, they were also moving the mouth(I think it was the mouth), are they still alive and good to cook. The mouth would close if the crab was touched or moved, but the legs weren't moving.

This sounds like a rare but possible occurrence. If it were me, I would have covered them with water (cold) to see if they started "breathing" again which would be evident by them physically moving water through their gills and out their mouths. If they had responded that way then yes they were still alive.
However our FIRST rule of proper crab preparation/storage is: Cook them ASAP and then freeze or refrigerate them or clean them while they are alive and freeze or refrigerate for Enjoy!-ing later.

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Keeping Blue Crabs Alive For a Week

Can you keep blue crabs alive in the water for a week.. if so how?

I think that a week may be pushing it but if I was going to attempt that I would would be sure to have two things going on to keep Blue Crab alive; 1. I would definitely have an electric aerator on hand to be sure they were constantly getting a good supply of fresh oxygen in their water (ocean water) and 2. I would also want to be changing or circulating their habitation (ocean) water on a regular basis as well as the aerating. Additionally they must be kept chilled as heat is a deadly enemy of crab. Good luck! and, Enjoy!

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