How to Harvest Stone Crab Claws
If you've ever wanted to know how to harvest stone crab claws, you've come to the right place. Stone crabs are oval-shaped, dark reddish-brown animals with two large claws on each hand. The "crusher" claw is the largest and most sought-after. Stone crabs often lose limbs when attacked by predators, but when a stone crab molts, it grows back with brand new claws.
These creatures have two asymmetric claws: a crushing claw and a pincer claw. The pincer claw is used for more precise manipulation. Since these crabs eat oysters, removing their claws may affect their ability to eat these animals. About 98% of stone crabs harvested in the United States are caught in Florida, while fishermen in South Carolina may only remove one claw per stone crab. Nonetheless, removing stone crab claws is a cruel way to harvest them.
Once you've decided to harvest stone crabs
, you can either buy them fresh or freeze them. Fresh stone crab claws are available from October to May. If you're planning to harvest stone crab claws from frozen, you can get them from a specialty store, such as Joe's, which offers high-quality, frozen claws. These crates come with instructions and protective bibs, so there's no need to worry about eating a sliver of stone crab when it's frozen.
Adult stone crabs regenerate their appendages after several molts. The regeneration process usually takes a year, but young stone crabs can molt more frequently and regenerate their claws in a matter of months. They can even grow back in as little as three molts. You can see why they're so expensive! If you're interested in finding out more about stone crabs, subscribe to Insider.
The size of stone crab claws is determined by the length of the propodus, which is the larger immovable portion of the claw. The length of a legal stone crab claw should be 73mm (2 7/8 inches) or longer. Generally, male stone crab claws are much larger than female stone crab claws for the same shell size. A male stone crab's largest claws are 5 1/2 inches long. If you're interested in purchasing stone crab claws
, consider buying a few for special occasions.
Stone crab claw harvesting in Florida takes place during the winter months. The Crustacean Fisheries group of the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute oversees the commercial stone crab fishery in Florida. The group also conducts research on the stone crab population. By law, the stone crabs must be released back into the water and grown a new claw. This allows the animal to regenerate the claws three to four times. There is no harm in harvesting stone crab claws; however, you should be aware that Florida law forbids the taking of entire stone crabs.
Purchasing stone crab claws is a wonderful way to enjoy succulent, sweet stone crab meat. The meat comes from the moveable pincer on the claw. Crab claws can be frozen or reheated in the microwave, but you must be very careful not to overcook the meat in a microwave because it's unevenly cooked. You should buy enough stone crab claws for a meal, and store them at a cold temperature while traveling home. Check out this related post to get more enlightened on the topic: https://www.britannica.com/animal/fiddler-crab