Crabs are often called the “spiders of the sea” due to their quick movements with multiple legs. They are not spiders though, crabs are crustaceans and decapods (having 10 legs).
Humans will consume about 1.4 million tons of crab each year. Crab is versatile and can be used in a plethora of recipes, like:
- crab cakes
- pasta sauce
These sweet, succulent delights of the sea can also be used as a substitute for lobster and shrimp. Nevermind simply just boiling them and dipping them in butter.
On average, crabs live for about 3-4 years in the wild. But how long will uncooked crab stay fresh in your fridge?
The safe answer is up to 2 days. Raw seafood can spoil quickly and the bacteria it produces spreads even quicker. If you’re not planning to cook your raw crab within 48 hours of purchasing it, then consider freezing it.
How Long Will Cooked Crab Last In The Fridge?
If you buy cooked crab or have cooked it yourself, it will last up to 4 days. That is if you store it properly. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or foil. You can also store it in an airtight container.
Can Crab Be Stored In The Freezer?
Not only can crab be frozen, but you are encouraged to freeze it if you’re not using it right away. The freezing process is basically the same for both cooked and uncooked crab.
The crab should first be shelled and cleaned. Then wrap it in plastic cling wrap and place it in a freezer-safe bag or airtight container. For added protection, wrap the container in plastic wrap as well.
Make sure to label the container with the date. Store in the back of the freezer. The crab will stay fresh for 2-3 months. You may be able to eat it up to 6-8 months after it’s been frozen. However, it will gradually lose its flavor and could get freezer burned.
Do not refreeze crab if it’s already been defrosted. It will have lost its flavor and the texture will be off. It’s better to just eat it or make a crab salad for your next day’s lunch.
How Can You Tell If Crab Is Spoiled?
Nothing can ruin your day more than spoiled food. All your plans for a great meal washed down the drain. Worse yet, if you didn’t realize it and ate spoiled food. Your plans may be ruined for several days while you recover.
Luckily, it’s pretty easy to tell when crab is spoiled. The fresh crab will be plump and have moist white skin. There will be some red around where the shell and the flesh meet. There are several signs that will let you know that your crab is spoiled.
Fresh crab should have very little smell. It should not smell sour, fishy, or like ammonia. All of these are signs of rancid fish.
Fresh crab will be white with some red. If your crab is yellow or brown, this is a sign that it’s beginning to decompose. The crab should not be gray or blue either.
The crab’s flesh should be moist, but firm. If the flesh is mushy it means it’s degraded and has probably turned. Don’t risk it. If the crab is slimy, it means that bacteria have taken over and it’s no good. Sticky crab is not good either. That also can mean bacteria is starting to multiply.
What Is The Best Way To Defrost Frozen Crab?
The best way to defrost crab ( or any other seafood), is to place it in the fridge overnight. If the crab happens to be in a vacuum sealed bag or plastic baggie, take it out before putting it in the fridge. Put it in a container or wrap it in foil.
Do not leave your crab on the counter to defrost. It could become rubbery and grow bacteria. Do not defrost in hot or warm water. The texture can change, and again, bacteria.
Do not defrost the crab in the microwave. It will just mess up the tab. The thinner pieces will end up cooking, and may even get rubbery or hard. Also, the microwave will smell like fish, and nobody wants that.
How Do You Know Your Crab Is Fresh When Buying It?
If you’re going the live crab route, there are some things you should know. First, buy your crabs from a reputable fishmonger. A fishmonger is not just someone that stands behind a counter to weigh and wrap your fish.
The person at the supermarket is most likely not a fishmonger. They are trained at selecting, handling, boning,and fileting fish. A fishmonger is knowledgeable about where the fish came from, the best way to cook it, and probably can even tell you what wine goes best with a particular fish.
If you don’t have a fishmonger, ask people for recommendations or do some research.
A supermarket should be a second choice when buying crab. Be sure to ask how long the crab has been in the tank. If it’s longer than 5-6 days, go somewhere else.
Don’t be afraid to choose your own. Pick crabs that are moving about and seem energetic. Ask to smell them. If they smell like ammonia, put them back. Don’t ever buy dead crabs.