A lesson in soft-shell crabs

Crabs are much easier to eat without their shells.

To most, soft-shell crabs are downright scary looking. But once you get past the whole “you don’t have to crack them to eat them” thing, they are downright delicious.

In April and October, when the water temperature is just right, growing blue crabs shed their exoskeleton.

This process is called molting and occurs over just a few days time.

Without its hard shell, nearly the entire soft-shell crab is edible!

Harvesting soft-shell crabs is no easy task.

Crabs are caught during the pre-molting stage. These “Peeler crabs” are kept in tanks under 24/7 watch.

Crabs transferred to designated tanks based on their stage of molting.

A red tint around the crab’s swimming fin means molting is about to begin.

Crabs are called “busters” after the back of their shell cracks open.

The crab then slowly backs out, leaving the old shell behind.

If left in water, the new shell will begin to harden in only a few hours.

While best fresh, soft-shell crabs can be kept alive on ice for several days, or frozen until ready to be eaten.