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Soft shell crabs are at a growth stage when the crab sheds its outer shell and must be removed from the water within a few hours of shedding before the tender skin hardens into another larger shell. Soft shell crabs are sold whole. They’re in season from April to mid-September and vary in size from 4-6 inches.

In 1989, the Maryland Blue Crab (Callinectes sapidus Rathbun) was designated the State Crustacean. Its name honors Mary Jane Rathbun, the scientist who described the species in 1896. The blue crab's scientific name translates as "beautiful swimmer that is savory." Blue crab meat is sometimes compared to lobster meat, the flavor best appreciated by cracking and eating steamed hardshells. Crabs are prepared in restaurants and in home kitchens, steamed or sauteed, as Maryland crab cakes and Crab Imperial, or in crab soup and crab dip.

Steaming Crab Recipe
—Prepare a large two-part steamer pot by placing the boiler pot on the stove or grill and adding to it enough water, vinegar and flat beer in equal parts to cover the bottom by half an inch. Bring the liquid to a full boil. Add hand-selected live crabs. Layer the crabs in the steamer pot and add seasoning to taste. Cover the steamer and place it on the boiler pot letting the crabs steam until they're bright red (approx 20 minutes).

Alaskan Snow Crab Clusters -
snow crab legs make excellent hors d'oeuvres served whole or in sections with drawn butter for dipping. Allow at least two per guest.

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