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Fresh (?) crab at Costco

Three times now we've purchased what is supposed to be fresh Dungeness crab, at our Costcos here in South OC, only to have them be smelly, sticky and the body meat very gray in color after 24 hours in our fridge. The taste (after screwing up the courage) was of 'bad crab' (I guess is the only way to put it). The package says packed 6/6/09; we bought them late that day and tried to eat them this evenoing, on the 7th. No problem returning it to them but it's annoying and a shame that we can't enjoy the crab.

We've enjoyed their crab many times before but that was in previous years. This Spring and Summer we've had 3 bad experiences of 4. 1 of the 3 on the same day as purchase!

Anyone have any clues on this??? I'm at the point where I'm not likely to try again without some educated help.

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  1. How are you storing it in the fridge? Ideally you should have it on ice in a container that can drain water into another container, think colander with ice inside of a bigger container. Also what is the condition when you take it from the store is it already smelly and sticky?

    1. Hate to hear it happened at Costco, but I never buy Dungeness crab that's already been cooked. I only buy them live and cook them myself. The only other option is to do the smell test on them before you buy them.

      Also because it says it was packed 6/6/09 doesn't mean it wasn't "repackaged" on that date...I've seen that done in grocery stores when they're trying to move old product and add "manager's special" on the package and lower the price. .

      2 Replies
      1. re: monku

        >>but I never buy Dungeness crab that's already been cooked. I only buy them live and cook them myself.<<

        Great advice - "dead" crabmeat in the shell goes bad fast.

        1. re: bulavinaka

          I Googled "How fast do crabs spoil" and got a lot of hits. Here's one:
          The spoil rate is real fast. I guess the only way to eat crab is to buy them alive like everyone said. I used to cook them when I was younger but I can't anymore. I feel horrible killing them myself. The only time I get crab is at a Chinatown restaurant fresh from their tanks, which isn't often.

      2. I'll give you that it would be best to eat the crab the same day it is purchased but our schedules sometimes make that impossible. Am I completely wrong in thinking that this product should last 24 hours in the fridge after purchase? In fact......... it has lasted that long on many occasions prior to this last run of incidents. As to the question of whether we're buying these already smelly and sticky............... give me credit for a SMALL but or intelligence on that one. Anyway, they're plastic wrapped in a case, so you can't feel them if you wanted to and the smell is not noticeable through the plastic.

        I wish we had a fresh crab source close enough for it to be viable but we don't. I'm thinking we should check into the days when our local Costcos have their 'open' seafood sales areas. I think I've noticed that they have loose crabs in those stalls so we could check them out before buying.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Midlife

          I'm not sure if you have any big asian markets in south OC, but I go to Ranch 99 market in anaheim to buy live crabs, main lobster, chicken and beef bones for stock. most of the stuff grocery stores dont have on hand.

          1. re: Midlife

            Is there a Gelson's near you? I've gotten good cooked cracked crab from the Gelson's in Silverlake (near downtown LA), and I know they also carry it at Whole Food's. Of course, the price is going to be higher than Costco's, but at least you will be more assured it will be fresh.

            1. re: Midlife

              I don't know if you're completely wrong or not, but if I can't buy crab on the day I plan to eat it, I plan on hamburgers instead.

            2. I tried their King Crab legs, they were bland and incredibly disappointing. Never again.

              1. There are good Asian markets in Irvine in the Jeffrey & Culver areas. But, really, it's not that much farther to hit the 405 and go to Little Saigon. In fact, there is a Huge market right off the Beach exit at McFadden.

                Dungeness have been really expensive this year and I heard they are not having good harvests.

                In the past, I have purchased the pre-cooked in grocery stores only to have the same experience as you. But I can tell you that if you cook them live, break them down and clean them, you can keep the cooked legs in zip locks and they will stay good for at least 48 hours.

                1. The crab we've bought at Costco has been extremely salty, maybe in an attempt to cover a not-too-fresh flavor. Price jumped like 50% from two years ago. Seems as if recently good crab is hard to find.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Akitist

                    You can get live crabs - Dungeness and other varieties at the Asian markets and it's excellent quality. Only problem is that in summers past, we've been able to buy it for as low as $2.99/lb for Dungeness. This year, it's been $6.99

                    1. re: mollygirl

                      Seen it as high as $11.99 @ 99 Ranch Markets a few months ago. I got it on sale at Hawaii Market in Alhambra for $2.49 lb. a while back. Seafood decomposes extremely fast as soon as it dies. They excrete a substance that gives it that "ammonia" taste especially in crabs. It's a hit and miss if you buy already dead crab. Best to buy live.

                  2. We live in San Clemente, so the closest Asian Market is 99 at Jeffrey and Walnut, in Irvine. Are there any places South of there that anyone is aware of?? 99 is, unfortunately, a good 25-30 minutes from us and we have no regular routes within 15 minutes of there. We have a Costco within 5 minutes. I would think Marbella Market or Gelson's would have it, but at
                    twice the price.

                    1. Ideally, you should eat seafood the same day you buy it.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: leeky

                        Ditto Costco crab being salty. I bought it once last year and I still can't make myself buy it anywhere again! I'll eat it at a sushi bar or a fine restaurant only.

                        I bought some wild salmon yesterday at Costco. When I unpacked it there's an unpleasant fishy odor. Now I have to go return it!

                        1. re: compucook

                          We buy packaged salmon at Costco all the time and it's always good. I think, though, that the product turnover is probably much greater than with the crab, which might explain things.

                          I really wish someone would comment on the fresh fish "event' kiosks Costco does and whether there's any difference in the freshness from daily case product.

                          I guess I'm trying hard to find a way to buy this stuff at Costco. Seems like I'm in the minority on this.

                          1. re: Midlife

                            When I first joined Costco, I was caught up in "all the glory" of Costco, including those kiosks that would come out on fridays and saturdays. After buying and trying the scallops and shrimp, I personally didn't find anything special about them.

                            Just my opinion, but I think of crab and lobster to be infrequent pleasures to look forward to. Considerig where you live, maybe planning trips to the above-mentioned fresh sources for those times instead of going for the "crab-shoot" at Costco might result in a much higher success rate as well as a more pleasurable experience? After the number of bad experiences you've encountered, I'd be more than once-bitten twice-shy.

                            1. re: Midlife

                              The farmed salmon is fine, but the wild-caught is a different story. Bought some last year, and it wasn't great. Didn't take a chance this year; apparently I guessed right.

                              1. re: Akitist

                                I agree that the farmed salmon is good. So was last night's fresh halibut. We used to get the scallops from the "event" thing, but last time they were so frozen, they were mushy. Ick! The shrimp is usually half frozen. At first it was fresher and delicious, then it was displayed more frozen. Heck, if I wanted frozen shrimp, I'd just buy a bag!