Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Nov 20, 2010 03:22 PM

How to freeze live dungeness crab in the most humane way

I just came from the store and got two huge dungeness crabs. For now, they are in the fridge. I'm thinking they are still alive but haven't moved (much). Basically, I don't plan to cook or eat 'em right away. But is there's a correct way or better way to freeze them. Boil them first then freeze? Should I put 'em in a freezer bag or can I just stick 'em directly in the freezer, in the bag that it's in, from the store? Leave 'em out for a while? Any specifics or recommendations on how to go about doing it so it stays the "freshest" also. Right now, Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I think all shellfish is best if cooked when alive, so I would recommend cooking right away and then freezing. Boiling or freezing alive are both not humane (I think freezing is more painless if you're human but I'm not speaking from personal experience), if it's an issue for you it's probably better if you avoid buying/eating them.

    1. I agree cooking first would preserve the flavor better, but if you decide to freeze them first remember they live in extremely cold water, so I don't think it will hurt them in any way.

      1 Reply
      1. re: hill food

        well, while the water they live in indeed is very cold, it isn't freezing...but that said, when I was young and didn't know better, I confess that I once put some live crabs in the freezer still wrapped in the paper they came in, because I was terrified of the claws and figured the freezer would stop all the movement (ie freeze them). Several hours later I took the crabs out to steam them. Sure enough, as soon as I opened the bag, they started moving all over the place! Extremely lively! They may have been in suspended animation, but they weren't frozen, or at least not frozen enough to suit me.

        (they were very good by the way, once someone else helped me get them into the pot. I definitely recommend cooking first, but can't comment on which is more 'humane'.)

      2. You really should cook the crab first, let it cool, and THEN freeze it. Crab doesn't keep well frozen the way shrimp does, but it will keep longer if cooked, and even shelled first.

        1. The crab will stay alive for 2 or 3 days in the refrigerator, they're lethargic and half asleep. Cook them and eat them, the way they were meant to be consumed.
          You can't cook them and freeze them unless you can "flash" freeze them like they do wihen they process Alaskan king crab. Otherwise the meat is going to be mushy when you thaw it out and eat it.

          1 Reply
          1. re: monku

            that is a good point. I guess since they are so used to extreme cold you'd have to flash freeze using either sequence (cook/freeze vs. freeze/cook).

          2. I won't respond to the humanity of keeping them, but then I remember my uncle Eddie letting lobsters crawl around the kitchen before cooking. So to each there own. I will say that when it comes to boiling them put them in upside down. It makes their legs collapse in and they cant' crawl out, which is a humanities game I never want to play again :-( Oh and if their in a closed plastic bag they will suffocate, dead crab is not good crab.

            1 Reply
            1. re: just_M

              not mention being reminded of that scene in Annie Hall