Posted in Sarah's Attic Of Treasures

Florida’s Stone Crab Season

Classic-Stone-Crab.jpg

October 15 marked the opening day of Florida’s stone crab season!

If you can handle the sticker shock (one pound [about 5-6 medium/large claws] at the fish market seems to be going for about $25-27 right now) you’re in for a treat. This year I had a tough time finding them that first weekend because it was still a little early, and traps hadn’t been in the water very long.  I was getting nervous because I was writing a blog post about them for Visit Sarasota County and had to get my hands on some claws in order to meet my deadline! So I reached out to my local “crab connections” (don’t you all have those?) and found some beauties.

If you’re new to the stone crab phenomenon, here are NINE things you might like to know:

1) In Florida, stone crabs are harvested October 15 through May 15.
2) Harvesters (commercial & recreational) typically use baited traps, and each have their own identifiable floats at the surface.
3) Commercial crabbers might put out as many as several thousand traps each year; recreational anglers are allowed 5 traps (with a license, of course).
4) Unlike other crab harvesting methods, stone crabbers remove only one approved-size claw from each crab, then they return the crab to the water. An adult crab will regenerates its claw after about 1 year and, within 3 years, it will have regained about 95% of its original claw size. The process is carefully managed by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, to ensure longevity of the species.
5) Many commercial fishermen cook the claws on their boats after harvesting — it not only ensures freshness, but also reduces the possibility of meat sticking to shells.  When cooked, they take on that beautiful red-orange color.
6) Stone crab has white, flaky meat that’s sweet, tender and oh-so-delicious.
7) Most seasoned crab eaters will tell you that the best way to enjoy them is cold, but you can also enjoy them slightly warmed.
8) Once you crack open the shell, you can devour the meat all by itself OR dip it into a sauce — the classic, must-have is mustard sauce, but drawn butter runs a close second.
9) Cracking them open doesn’t require heavy tools like a hammer or a fancy crab-cracking device. Nope. A sturdy kitchen spoon achieves great results, with moderate shell fragments in your kitchen (although, it’s probably best to take the operation outside). Simply lay each claw in the palm of your hand then rap the shell firmly with the back of the spoon – one, two or three times should do it. This fractures the shell into a couple of large pieces (as opposed to smashing it to smithereens) then you should be able to pull out the meat easily. The knuckle also has lots of meat, so be sure to use the spoon to crack that as well.

If you can handle the sticker shock (one pound [about 5-6 medium/large claws] at the fish market seems to be going for about $25-27 right now) you’re in for a treat. This year I had a tough time finding them that first weekend because it was still a little early, and traps hadn’t been in the water very long.  I was getting nervous because I was writing a blog post about them for Visit Sarasota County and had to get my hands on some claws in order to meet my deadline! So I reached out to my local “crab connections” (don’t you all have those?) and found some beauties.

If you’re new to the stone crab phenomenon, here are NINE things you might like to know:

1) In Florida, stone crabs are harvested October 15 through May 15.
2) Harvesters (commercial & recreational) typically use baited traps, and each have their own identifiable floats at the surface.
3) Commercial crabbers might put out as many as several thousand traps each year; recreational anglers are allowed 5 traps (with a license, of course).
4) Unlike other crab harvesting methods, stone crabbers remove only one approved-size claw from each crab, then they return the crab to the water. An adult crab will regenerates its claw after about 1 year and, within 3 years, it will have regained about 95% of its original claw size. The process is carefully managed by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, to ensure longevity of the species.
5) Many commercial fishermen cook the claws on their boats after harvesting — it not only ensures freshness, but also reduces the possibility of meat sticking to shells.  When cooked, they take on that beautiful red-orange color.
6) Stone crab has white, flaky meat that’s sweet, tender and oh-so-delicious.
7) Most seasoned crab eaters will tell you that the best way to enjoy them is cold, but you can also enjoy them slightly warmed.
8) Once you crack open the shell, you can devour the meat all by itself OR dip it into a sauce — the classic, must-have is mustard sauce, but drawn butter runs a close second.
9) Cracking them open doesn’t require heavy tools like a hammer or a fancy crab-cracking device. Nope. A sturdy kitchen spoon achieves great results, with moderate shell fragments in your kitchen (although, it’s probably best to take the operation outside). Simply lay each claw in the palm of your hand then rap the shell firmly with the back of the spoon – one, two or three times should do it. This fractures the shell into a couple of large pieces (as opposed to smashing it to smithereens) then you should be able to pull out the meat easily. The knuckle also has lots of meat, so be sure to use the spoon to crack that as well.

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Author:

My real name is Debra (Debbie Sue). Sarah is a nickname given to me in high school. My husband has always called me that so here in Florida It's all I am known by. I was born and raised in Illinois. My son and I moved to Colorado in 1982. I taught school for 17 years. Then I ran a homeschooling/preschool/daycare until 2006 when I moved to Florida after my son, Bobby died suddenly. He was almost 26. Danny and I live and work at a state park here. I miss the mountains and climate of Colorado. I miss snow and the four seasons. I miss Bobby.

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