Q: What is a “Maryland crab feast”? A: Crab feasts are a time honored tradition during which friends and family gather around a large picnic-style table to eat Maryland blue crabs. Blue crabs take time to pick and eat so it becomes a very social activity. Typically held in the summer, crab feasts are best enjoyed with a cold beer in hand.
Q: When is Maryland crab season? A: The Maryland crab season typically starts in mid April and runs all the way through December.
Q: What is the difference between male and female crabs? A: Male crabs are generally larger & meatier than females. Females have sweeter meat and may contain egg-roe. They are differentiated by the shape of their apron (the flap on their stomach) : the male’s is long and pointy and the female’s is dome shaped.
Q: What’s so special about Maryland Crabs? A: To survive winter, Chesapeake Bay crabs have to build up extra fat stores which gives them that sweet, buttery flavor you won’t find in other types of crabs or in blue crabs shipped from other waters.
Q: When is the best time for crabs? A: While June through August are the most favored times for eating crabs, September-November is typically the best time to get the largest and fattest hard crabs at the best prices.
Q: How are the crabs prepared? A: Marylanders prepare hard shells and other seafood by steaming them, rather than boiling which is common along the rest of the East Coast. The crabs are traditionally seasoned with either Old Bay or JO Spice.
Anatomy of a crab feast
How many crabs to get… A good rule of thumb is about 6-10 Maryland Blue Crabs per person. If you are serving other food, we recommend about a 1/2 dozen crabs per person. A bushel of large crabs will feed 8-10 people.
Dress code… Crab feasts are a messy business; expect to get dirty and don’t wear any white or new clothing!
Set the table… Long, outdoor tables are ideal for crab feasting, but any table covered in newspaper or brown paper will do. Set mallets, knives and rolls of paper towels within easy grabbing distance. Popular condiments include melted butter and extra crab seasoning.
Don’t forget sides… Crab meat alone is not very filling so you may want to compliment your feast with corn, spiced shrimp and other appetizers.
… and drinks! Light beer is the beverage of choice for crabs feasts because it complements the taste of the crab seasoning exceptionally well.
How to eat Maryland crabs like a pro
1- Twist off the legs and claws off the body. Discard the legs and put the claws aside for now.
2- Pull off the apron (the flap located on the abdomen).
3- Turn the crab over and pull upward on the shell from the back of the crab peeling it forward.
4- Grab each side firmly and bend in the middle, breaking in half. Take each half and break those in half too.
5- Pick the meat from each half. (Pro tip: slide the extracted meat across the top shell to pick up some delicious seasoning)
6- Crack the claws with a mallet and extract the meat.
A special thanks to Cameron’s Seafood for this very important information! https://www.cameronsseafood.com/maryland-experience/