Maryland blue crabs are an extremely important part of the state’s economy and have been for many years; commercial harvesting actually dates back to the mid 1800. Maryland has established catch limits that are set to ensure that the hundreds of thousands of people that enjoy the dish can continue to enjoy it year after year.
Maryland crabs are not only a favorite of locals, they are a favorite of everyone and they can be prepared in a number of different ways. A favorite is simply steaming but soft shell crabs can be sautéed in butter, served as crab cakes or soup. Crabs grow by molting or shedding their shell, soft shell crabs are Maryland blue crabs that have shed their shell but not yet grown a new one. The best time for soft shell crabs is between May and late August.
A few neat facts about Maryland crabs:
Locally, these crabs are known as “Maryland crabs,” the truth is they are harvested in the Chesapeake Bay which includes Virginia waters
The color of the front claws of blue crabs is indeed brilliant blue while the shell on the back is olive tone or blue-green
Blue crabs are caught in three phases; hard shell, peelers which is the term used for crabs just before they lose their shell and soft shell
Anyone in Maryland can catch crab with a license as long as they stay on a dock, pier, bridge or boat using a dip net and as many hand lines as they wish. In Virginia, a license is only required if you use commercial fishing gear and take more than one bushel of crabs.
Maryland crabs are distributed throughout the country, there are companies that steam the crab to order, pack and ship it on the same day they receive an order. However, if you are lucky and happen to be in Maryland during the summer, nothing is better than enjoying them along the Bay. For more information, visit Harbour House Crabs.