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Stone Crabs: Can You Eat & How to Catch

Stone crabs are delicious, and they are effortless to cook. Stone crabs are expensive because only one crab’s claw is harvested from the stone crab. It is illegal to harvest stone crabs whose claws are not yet 3 inches in size. Stone crabs can be sautéed, steamed, or baked.

Can You Eat Stone Crabs?

Yes! Humans can eat stone crabs. They are not poisonous or bad for human consumption at all. In fact, stone crabs are extremely expensive and are seen as delicacies in Florida and the other southern states. One of the reasons they’re so expensive is because, in many parts where they inhabit, the fishers who harvest them do not take the entire crab and sell it on the market. Instead, they harvest only one claw from the stone crab and then toss the stone crabs back into the ocean. The fishers do this because the stone crab can regenerate their claws. So they can continue to harvest and take crab claws. This practice maintains the crabbing industry without killing the crab. Collecting a single crab claw at a time is why eating stone crab meat is so expensive.

Stone crab, like other fish and crustaceans, are a healthy and low-calorie source of protein. They have vitamins and minerals that are essential to a healthy body. We even have different compounds as in their body that helps protect humans from heart disease and also aids in brain development.

Description of a Stone Crab

On average, the female stone crab has a more significant back and head than a male stone crab. But in comparison, the male stone crab develops much larger crab claws than the females. This also means that the male crabs are hunted more.

Unlike other types of crab, the stone crab does not have a bright red bottom. They either have a blackish coloring or brownish-red coloring with many gray spots dotted along its body. Even their claws have dark-colored tips. You know you are eating a stone crab claw when you see a crab claw that looks like it was dipped in ink.

Sometimes, stone crabs can have orange or red underbellies and have black dots all over their body.

Where to Find Stone Crabs

Stone crabs are not cold water creatures at all. They love to stay in warm waters and around the equator. If you are looking for stone crabs, hunt around for them in states that are lower than North Carolina. If you travel along the Gulf of Mexico to the Bahamas and Panama, you’ll be following the stone crab inhabitant route. 

They are especially popular around the entire state of Florida. The people all along Florida enjoy dining on a stone crab if they can afford it since it is so expensive. Stone crabs are especially abundant around the Florida Keys. Since they live in shallow waters and warm water, you can also find lobsters and other warm-water fish in similar areas.

The best time to catch stone crabs is between October 15th and May 15th. This is regularly known as stone crab season. Stone crab season is a legal period within Florida laws that allow crab catchers to harvest stone crab claws from some crabs. If you take crab claws from stone crabs when you’re out of stone crabbing season, you could be sentenced to either fines or jail time.

How to Catch Stone Crabs

Even though crabs have pincers, capturing a stone crab is not a problem at all. As long as you wait patiently and avoid their claws, which are at the front of their body, you can easily pick up a stone crab. 

If you just have to stone crab, it is not recommended that you take the entire crab out of the water. To conserve the seafood industry and the population of stone crabs, only take a single crab claw from the stone crab. You should not take both because they will not have a claw to defend themselves if they run into predators. 

Not only can these crabs not defend themselves, but if you are catching stone crabs in Florida, this rule is a law. By Florida law, you can only take crab claws from a stone crab, and you can only harvest claws that are three inches long. If the crab is too small, they will not be able to defend themselves properly.

Like most other species of crab, you can catch a stone crab with a crab trap. All you need to do is place dead bait that is cut up into small pieces into the crab trap. Leave the crab trap near the area where crabs live and wait for a few days. You can come back and check every day to see if a crab landed in the trap.

How to Prepare and Cook Stone Crabs

Since you can only eat the crab claws, you do not have to worry about killing a live crab humanely.

First, you need to know that two and a half pounds of stone crab claws are equivalent to 1 pound of stone crab meat. So if you were serving stone crab, be sure to have at least a fourth of a pound of crab meat for every guest.

Before you cook the crab claws, be sure to thoroughly wash the claws and make sure there are no particles or sand grains within their shell. You do not want the crab claws to be dirty and grainy,

Since these crab claws are not attached to the entire crab, you do not have to boil them. Instead, you can saute them in butter and garlic. You also can steam them in a wide pot. 

Conclusion

Stone crabs are incredibly delicious food. When people harvest stone crabs, they only harvest one crab claw. They then return the live crab to the ocean, generating another claw within a year. This is why stone crab meat is so expensive. Stone crabs are warm water crustaceans, and they enjoy living around Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, the Bahamas, and even Cuba. If you are catching stone crabs in Florida, the legal stone crabbing season is from October 15th to May 15th.

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