Eaten on its own or as part of a seafood platter, crab is an anytime favorite. And, if you’ve bought crab and are wondering how long you can store uncooked crab safely, in this article, we have given you a complete rundown of how to store crab and many more tips.
Can You Eat Uncooked Crab?
Not only is crab super delicious, but it is highly nutritious too. It is rich in protein and loaded with nutrients such as vitamins A, E, B12, selenium, phosphorus, copper, and niacin. It is very beneficial for your body and the brain. Raw crab meat can be eaten both in an uncooked and cooked form.
Raw crab typically splits into green and brown beef and can be eaten safely without the risk of contamination. However, if the crab is not handled, prepared or stored properly, then eating it can lead to food-borne illnesses. So, it is extremely important to cook the crabs and store them properly to prevent any illnesses.
How Long Can You Store Uncooked Crab in the Refrigerator?
Crabs are quite delicate shellfish and need to be handled and stored very carefully. Crabs have a small shelf life compared to other types of seafood such as lobsters, shrimp and clams. As per the FDA guidelines, fresh or raw crab meat must never be left out at room temperature, even for a couple of hours.
It is very important to ensure that the crab is stored properly and used within the appropriate time or it may become unfit, even harmful to consume. So, “how long can uncooked crab be stored safely in the refrigerator?”
The crab must be stored in the refrigerator at all times from the moment of purchase until it is used, and it is recommended to utilize the uncooked crab within 3-5 days after purchase. The uncooked crab’s shelf life is influenced by a number of variables, including the label’s stated expiration date, how it is stored, and how it is cooked.
Crab that is raw can be kept in the refrigerator for three to five days. But until you’re ready to eat it or prepare it, you should leave the raw crab in its packaging and put it in the coldest portion of your refrigerator, which is normally at the bottom. To stop germs from growing, it is advisable to keep the raw crab at a temperature of around 40°F.
The crab can survive an additional 3–4 days after being cooked. Freezing the crab is the greatest technique to extend its shelf life and prevent spoiling. However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that freezing won’t eliminate the bacteria spores that cause illnesses, so you must carefully prepare the crab before consuming it.
Shelf Life of Crab in the Refrigerator
When you store uncooked crab in the refrigerator, the shelf life of the meat is typically 1-5 days. Any longer than 5 days, the crab meat will dry out. If you have uncooked crab lying in your fridge, that’s older than 5 days, then it is best to throw it away and clean the container in which the crab was stored properly. Otherwise, it can cause food poisoning.
If you are storing cooked crab in the fridge, then it should be good for around 3 days after cooking it. While if you store whole crabs cooked in their shells in the fridge, they should last for up to 5 days. However, if you’re storing only the crab meat, the shelf life reduces considerably and it can be stored only for around 1-2 days.
The shelf life of the crab meat is also affected by the condition of the meat. For instance, if you’re buying fresh crab meat, then it may not have a very long shelf life and you must check the expiration date on the label before purchasing it. However, if you purchase frozen crab meat, it will last for a very long time in your fridge, even up to 3-6 months after freezing.
How Long Can Fresh-Caught Crab Be Stored?
The fresh-caught crab does not last for a very long time and must be consumed within 24 hours, especially if the weather is hot. If the weather is cool, then you can keep fresh-caught crab for many hours.
You can store fresh-caught crab in the fridge for up to 7 days and if stored properly, it can last for over 2 weeks. Live crabs may keep a bit longer if stored in a well-aerated tank. However, it is recommended that you cook the live crabs the same day they are bought, for both health and humane reasons.
How to Store Crab Legs?
The best way to store uncooked crab legs is to either pack them in ice or store them in the coldest part of your fridge. If you’re storing the crab legs in the fridge, ensure that the temperature is between 32°F and 40°F. Crab legs will retain their freshness and flavor in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. However, in the freezer, the crab legs can last for around 3 months.
Cooked crab claws can last for around 3-4 days when stored in the fridge at 32°F. However, make sure that the claws you store are intact, without any cracks in the shell. The shell will help to protect the meat inside the claw for up to 6 months.
Related: How To Reheat Crab Legs: Summer Special
Can Cooked Crab Be Eaten after 5 Days?
While cooked crab is safe to consume even after 5 days, it will depend on the type of crab. Typically, crabs with soft shells have a shorter shelf life, especially if they are not refrigerated properly. This is because soft shell crabs don’t have an internal shell-like hard shell crabs, which protects them while they are shipped, handled and cooked.
If you want to store cooked soft shell crabs, then it is best to shell the crabs and then put them in a plastic bag or container filled with water. The cooked crab will remain fresh even after 5 days if you change the water every day.
How to Store Blue Crabs?
Storing Cleaned Blue Crabs
The meat of blue crabs has a very delicate sweet flavor and tender texture, which is why they are loved by crab connoisseurs all around the world. You can store cleaned blue crabs by placing a large cooler that is filled with dry ice. Over 24 hours, the dry ice will evaporate gradually and help to preserve the crabs.
It is possible to store cleaned blue crabs without refrigeration by placing them in an ice slurry. This will help keep the blue crabs cool and slow down bacterial activity. You can also use cold water that has been standing overnight or longer. If the crab is frozen, then you will have to thaw it before cooking.
Storing Blue Crab in the Refrigerator
Most often, people buy blue crabs that have already been cooked and the best way to store the crab is in the refrigerator. However, if you’re not planning to use the blue crab immediately, then it is best to store it in the freezer, which can help to extend its shelf life.
When stored properly, it will help to keep the flavor of the crab intact. Uncooked blue crab claws will remain good in the refrigerator for a day or two.
How to Tell If the Blue Crab Is Spoiled?
Blue crabs have a brownish mottled color shell and characteristic sapphire-colored claws, which gives them their name. However, when the blue crab becomes spoiled, the shell turns glossy black and it loses its natural reddish-brown coloring.
Also, the crab will turn soft and mushy to the touch and give off a sour, fishy, and strong ammonia odor. The best way to check if the blue crab is fresh is by tapping on their shells gently.
The live blue crab will move; but, if the crab is dead, it will not move or respond to the tapping. Also, if the blue crab has been killed freshly, then its claws will be slightly open. If they have been dead for a while, the claws will be closed tightly into a flattened pad.
How Long Is It Safe to Cook Dungeness Crab after It Dies?
It is best to cook the Dungeness crab when it is alive because the Dungeness crab is highly perishable and can spoil very quickly. If the crab is dead, then it is best to cook it within 10-15 minutes of dying.
However, as time passes—even within 24 hours after its death—the Dungeness crab meat will start deteriorating, affecting the texture and flavor. You may fall sick after eating such crab meat.
And, if you happen to buy a Dungeness crab that has been lying in the fish case at the store for some time, then it is best to cook it right away as you get home. However, if you want to eat Dungeness crab, then it is recommended that you buy fresh, live crabs straight from the seafood market or seafood vendor who gets them from the fishing fleet fresh every morning.
How to Boil Crab?
Boiling is one of the simplest and most common ways of cooking crabs. The process of boiling also helps to remove the impurities in the crab that can impact its flavor. Boiling the crab will depend on many factors such as the type of crab, size and age and how many crabs you will be cooking. Here are the steps of how to boil crab:
- Fill a large pot with water. Make sure that the pot is large, because if the pot is too small, then it will be difficult to maintain the rapid and steady boiling of the water.
- For every 3 to 4 crabs, you need a gallon of water. Bring the water to a rolling boil for 10 minutes.
- Add salt to the water to taste like salty ocean water and add the seasonings you want.
- Then add the crabs all together so that they cook for the same amount of time.
- Bring the water to boil again and cook the crabs until they begin to float. This may take around 10-15 minutes to happen, depending on the size of the crabs.
- Remove the crabs from the water using tongs and set them out till they are cool.
How long will raw crab last?
Fresh crab has a “best before” date of 2-3 days and typically, the raw crab can last for around 2-3 days at room temperature. In the refrigerator, the raw crab can last for up to 3-5 days and a bit longer in the freezer.
How long can fresh-caught crab be kept?
The fresh-caught crab should ideally be consumed within 24 hours of it being caught. The best way to keep fresh-caught crab is to cook it before storing it in the refrigerator or freezer. You can store fresh-caught crab in the fridge for up to 7 days. And, if you cook the crab and put it along with the shell into the freezer, it can last up to 6 months.
How to tell if crab meat is bad?
Spoiled crab meat may not have any distinct odor or taste. However, if you notice any pockets of liquid between the shell and meat or when you squeeze the meat you find liquid coming out from the shell, then these signs may be indications that the crab meat is spoiled.
To ensure that the crab that you’re purchasing is of good quality, examine them properly before buying. Avoid buying dead and damaged crabs.
What will happen if you eat bad crab meat?
If you eat bad crab meat, the domoic acid can cause food poisoning with symptoms like abdominal cramps, nausea, and diarrhea developing shortly after eating the tainted shellfish. This can develop into dizziness, headache, motor weakness, and confusion within 48 hours and in severe cases, it can cause loss of short-term memory, coma and even death.
What parts of the crab are poisonous to eat?
The gills of the crab, the abdomen, and mouthparts are hard to eat and don’t taste very good, so it is best to discard them. It is recommended that you don’t eat the guts or butter of the crab, which may contain domoic acid, which can be toxic.
Can you eat the yellow stuff present inside the crab?
The crab’s hepatopancreas, also known as the tomalley, mustard or crab fat, is yellow or yellowish-green in color and are essentially the crab’s digestive enzymes that aid in digestion. Considered a delicacy, the yellow stuff or tomalley is usually eaten boiled or steamed.
In conclusion, crabs are wonderful to eat, but they are highly perishable and must be stored properly. If you were wondering how to store crab safely, we hope that after reading this guide, all your questions have been answered about the safe storage and consumption of crabs.
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