Stone Crab Claws

Hubby's about to eat this one!

Stone crab claws are awesome, and you don’t need any complicated crab recipes to enjoy them because they have so much flavor all by themselves. The meat tastes like a combination of crab and lobster. Only the claws of stone crabs are harvested, as the body of the crab provides very little meat. When you purchase stone crab claws, chances are that they’ve already been cooked, so all you have to do is to heat them or eat them chilled. They make a great party food, and they can be eaten as a meal or added to cold salads.

To heat stone crab claws that have already been cooked, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Remove the pot from the heat immediately and drop in the claws. You don’t want the claws to boil because the flesh is notorious for sticking to the shell, making it difficult to remove. Let the claws remain in the hot water for four or five minutes, then cool them in cold running water until you can handle them.

Fresh Florida stone crab claws are a real southern food delicacy and are available fresh for only part of the year. In Florida, for example, stone crabbing season begins October 15 and runs through May 15. Sometimes you can find frozen stone crab claws for sale, but fresh claws are much tastier, and they’re easier to separate the flesh from the shell. When buying stone crab claws, it’s important to remember that about half the weight of the claws is shell. As a general rule of thumb, two pounds of stone crab claws will yield about one pound of crabmeat.

If you happen to be in a state where stone crabs live, try catching your own. Use a square or rectangular wire mesh crab trap and bait it with fresh chicken necks. Toss the trap into the water and tie the attached rope to a pier or other structure. Check the trap every two hours or so, and carefully remove any crabs. If the claws are of legal length, you can harvest them. In Florida, the claws have to be at least 2 ¾ inch from the tip of the immovable claw to the first joint. In Florida, both claws can be removed as long as they’re large enough, but the crab will have a much better chance of surviving if only the largest claw is removed. When the claw and “arm” are removed, the crab is returned to the water. The crab will grow a new claw, and in a year or so, the claw will be large enough to harvest.  Watch the accompanying video to learn to remove the claws properly. Below is the type of trap you’ll need, and it can be used for catching stone crabs and blue crabs. Crabs are expensive to purchase, so it won’t take long for this trap to pay for itself!

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stone crab in our crab trap

To crack the claws, use a pair of crab crackers. Don’t pulverize the shell. Instead, squeeze the cracker just hard enough to break the shell, while leaving the crab meat intact. Dip the claws in melted butter, or use the following recipe for an easy dipping sauce.

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Holle’s Seasoned Crab Butter

Ingredients:

  • One stick butter, melted
  • ¼ cup lemon or lime juice (I prefer lime juice)
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon sugar

Directions: Combine all ingredients and microwave until hot.