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CRABS AND THEIR PREPARATION



Numerous varieties of crabs are obtained along the seashores of the United States, and most of them measure not more than 5 or 6 inches across. Shell fish in this form are used for food both before the shells have hardened, when they are known as 'soft-shelled crabs', and after the shells have grown hard, when they are called 'hard-shelled crabs'. To be at their best, crabs should be as heavy as lobsters in proportion to their size. Their flesh should be firm and stiff and their eyes should be bright. The male crab has a smaller body and longer claws than the female. In food value, crabs are quite similar to lobsters.


Before either soft-shelled or hard-shelled crabs can be used as food, a certain amount of preparation is necessary. In the case of hard-shelled crabs, plunge them alive into hot water, allow them to come to the boiling point, and cook slowly for 1/2 hour. It is a good plan to add 1 tablespoonful of salt for each crab that is being boiled. While the crabs are cooking, remove the scum that rises to the top. When they are sufficiently cooked, open the shells and take out the meat, being careful to remove all the meat from the claws. Soft-shelled crabs require a somewhat different kind of preparation. With this variety, lift up the points on each side of the back shell and remove the spongy substance that is found under them. In addition, take off the apron, which is the small piece that occurs at the lower part of the shell and that terminates in points. The crabs are then ready for frying, which is the method of cooking that is usually applied to this variety.













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