The blue crab species, Callinectes Sapidus, is native to the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, including Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay. Depending on the time of the year, Sea King receives crabs from The Chesapeake Bay, Delaware, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Texas.

Crabmeat is generally sold by the pound, but most food stores today package crabmeat in 8oz., 12oz., and 16oz. containers. Frequently people buy crabmeat assuming it is a 16oz. package, when it is only 12oz. Sea King only sells crabmeat by the pound. Several grades of crabmeat exist: the most popular grades are Jumbo Lump, Lump, Special, Claw, and Claw Fingers. Claw Fingers is the meat from the claws of the crab with the pinchers still attached to be used as appetizers. Claw Meat is the meat extracted from the claws to be used in soups, stuffings, crab cakes etc. Special Crabmeat is the smallest pieces of white meat from the crab. Lump or Backfin different names but the same product has larger pieces of white meat from the body of the crab has less shell. Jumbo Lump being the finest quality and containing large lumps of meat has little or no cartilage or shell.

Fresh crabmeat, and pasteurized crabmeat once it is opened (all crabmeat should be packed in ice at all times) will have a shelf life of approximately 3 to 4 days.

Crabmeat differs in taste due to the following conditions:

• The waters where the crabs are caught
• Whether a crab is ready to molt (shed it shell to grow)
• The crab has molted and the meat has not developed in its new shell
• How crabs are processed (steamed or boiled), steam being the preferred and the best value and taste
• Whether there is crab fat in with the meat or the meat is washed and is very white

NOTE: The biggest difference is the species (The sweetest being Blue Crab “Callinectes Sapidus” indigenous to the Atlantic Coast and Gulf of Mexico.) Crabmeat from Asia and the Pacific is a Swimming Crab and does not have the sweet taste.

Pasteurized crabmeat is the process in which the meat is put into a metal or plastic sealed air tight container, heated and cooled by a specialized process. If the container remains completely sealed and is not opened, it will have a shelf life of 6 to 12 months under refrigeration if kept at 33-40 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the container is opened, it should be iced and consumed within 3 or 4 days. If any pasteurized can is puffed or the bottom or top is bulged do no use, the meat is spoiled. Return the container to the store where purchased.

Conventional freezing is like putting crabmeat in your freezer at home. This is probably the worst thing you can do to crabmeat. First it will become freezer burnt and will be unsuitable to eat; second, when thawed all the moisture will separate from the meat, and the meat will have the consistency of straw. Prepared crab cakes if wrapped and protected can be frozen with this method but not for an extended period of time.

Nitrogen freezing definitely is the best method of freezing and holding meat without any loss of taste and quality. If done in the proper controlled environment, at the correct temperature, when thawed there will not be any loss of moisture, the meat will be a little firmer than fresh meat, and the meat will taste like it was just picked from the crab.