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Jun 30, 2007 03:32 PM

Storing Whole Cooked Crabs

Was at a cookout today and we bought a bushel of live crabs which turned out to be WAYYY too many crabs. We boiled all of them but with so many left over I was hoping to keep some for later use. I put a half dozen in a Ziploc bag and put them in my freezer.

I figure to reheat them, I can just steam them right out of the freezer. I know that when crab goes bad it gives off an ammonia smell, so I will be on the lookout for that.

How long can they stay frozen in my regular freezer?

My sister-in-law has a deep freeze and we were wondering if they could stay longer in that.

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  1. I would guess a month or two in your freezer.

    I'm not sure what crab you have, but here's my opinion on frozen crab. Crab meat (blue crab meat, at least) doesn't seem to freeze very well, to me. It has a tendency to get watery and mushy when frozen, especially after it's already been cooked.
    However, I have frozen crab before. We'll usually clean the bodies (taking off the top shell, cutting off the face, taking out the gills), then split the meaty bodies down the middle and freeze that way. Then, we'll throw a couple bodies into spaghetti sauces for flavor, or other sauces. But, we've found that the meat usually isn't the same after the freezing process.
    Now, you may totally have a different experience, especially if you have a different type of crab. I think to reheat, I'd steam them frozen...don't defrost.
    Good luck to ya...

    3 Replies
    1. re: QueenB

      They are blue crabs. I'm sure the quality will suffer when we reheat them, but we had so many left over that we had to do something with them. If I had been thinking I would have cleaned them out first, but they had been out for a little while after we cooked them so we wanted to get them in the freezer ASAP.

      Well, we'll just see what happens. I figure we already got our money's worth from that bushel, so this would just be a bonus if they turn out ok.


      1. re: Philly Ray

        We always clean the crabs prior to cooking. Makes eating a lot cleaner & easier.

        1. re: Philly Ray

          All comments here are true, but if you have already frozen them without being "cleaned" -- don't worry. Just put them in a steamer basket in a big pot when you are ready (don't defrost, put them in the steamer frozen), and be ready to sprinkle on more Old Bay seasoning. They'll be fine delicious. i've done it lots of times.

          BTW, a deep freeze typically stores things at zero degrees, while your refrigerator freezer may be 25 degrees warmer than that, so go for deep freezer storage if you can get the space. It can extend the life of the frozen cooked crab to months beyond the month or two they wll keep in your refrigerator freezer. Commercial cooked crab is frozen very cold.

      2. The original comment has been removed
        1. Whole crabs don't freeze well. No matter what you do, the texture will be disappointing to eat as is. The best use for them is as gumbo crabs.
          In the Gulf Coast region, stores sell frozen gumbo crabs. They're partially cleaned, the backs and icky innards removed, sometimes the swimmers too. Often the claws are left on them. You throw them in the gumbo, some of the meat falls out and makes the gumbo more flavorful. At home or in casual restaurants, people will pick out the remaining meat from the shells in the gumbo.
          You could let yours defrost enough to remove the backs and clean them enough to use them for gumbo. They make the absolute best crab gumbo!!!!
          When we have leftover crabs that we don't eat within two or three days, I pick the meat and freeze it for use in crabmeat dishes that use sauces where the texture is less important than eating it fresh. You should get about a pound of meat from a dozen medium blue crabs.