Non-Crackable Snow Crab Legs

by Jim

Why are some crab legs so soft that you cannot crack them? They just bend back and forth.

Why some crab legs, snow, as well as, blue or dungeness crab legs may be softer due to being caught shortly after the molting stage. When crabs molt, they shed their shells completely by backing out of their existing shells. After they back out of their shells (for growth purposes) they need time to grow and harden their next shell process. This is why when catching your own crab recreational it's a good rule of thumb to check for softness of shell in their legs and not only if their size is "legal". Just because they are legal sized doesn't mean that they're fully shelled, they're shells may still be forming to hardness.
With this said, there really is wisdom in throwing the softer shelled crabs back as the meat, too, isn't all that good while still in the soft shell state. The one way to distinguish the softer and harder shell state of the crabs is the coloration of their legs. It isn't "illegal" to catch and keep softer crabs, they just aren't as good eating as those with the harder shells, unless, of course, you're going for soft shell blue crabs. If the snow crab legs are white/beige color, more than likely the crabs were still hardening their shells when they got caught. When going to a store or picking out crabs on a buffet, you can look for the crabs that are darker toned to avoid getting the softer shelled crab. If you do get crabs like these all you can do is use crab scissors and cut through them. They will be non-crackable. If the crab legs are color-toned closer to a darker beige/brown tone in their legs....Catch 'em! Clean 'em! Cook 'em! Eat 'em!

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