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Fresh or frozen crab is prized for its delicately flavored, white, sweet meat. To taste it at its best, prepare crab simply and serve it with mild seasonings. For example crab is often steamed and served with melted butter for dipping. There are six major kinds of crab, depending on time of year and location.

BLUE: They are caught primarily along the East Coast and have a hard or soft shell, depending on the season. With soft shells, the whole crab is edible except for the face, intestines and gills.

DUNGENESS: These West Coast favorites weigh from 1½ to 3 ½ pounds. They usually are sold as whole cooked crab. The meat from the body is white and from the claws and legs it's reddish.

KING: Alaskan crabs weigh from 6 to 20 pounds. Their legs, up to 3 feet long, have long pieces of red-flecked white meat.

SNOW: About half the size of king crabs, snow crabs have long spindly legs containing meat. They're also known as spider, tanner or queen crabs.

ROCK: These small crabs are native to New England and California.

They weigh only 5 to 8 ounces and have brownish meat.

STONE: These are found primarily in the waters off the Florida coast. Only the meat from the claws is eaten.

You can buy whole crabs live, cooked and frozen. Legs and claws are also available cooked and frozen. Cooked crab meat comes frozen, pasteurized (which requires refrigeration) and canned. Canned crab is available as claw meat, lump meat or flaked meat.

Live crabs should be active in the holding tank and heavy for their size. Their shells should feel hard (except for soft-shell crabs).

Frozen crabs should be wrapped well without evidence of ice or frozen juices. Crab and meat should smell sweet, not fishy.

If possible, cook live crabs the same day you buy them.

Source: Sacramento Bee, 10/12/94 Shared by: David Knight Submitted By DAVID KNIGHT On 10-18-94

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