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Oct 27, 2012 03:43 AM

Micro climates and effect on Chesapeake Blue Crabs

Since the "Chow Goons" removed part of a thread where I posited a question, to a MD based waterman, about the effects of different parts of the Bay may have on the taste of the crabs. . . . I thought I would pose the question in a new thread and see if that is OK.

Does anybody know or have an opinion as to whether there is a taste difference between crabs from the Upper Bay, Middle Bay, or Lower Bay?

What about Eastern side vs. Western side?

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  1. Can't help. These days I feel lucky just to get MD crabs.

    1. I have never been able to perceive a difference in Chesapeake crabs based upon where they have been caught. I suppose, part of the problem is that most of the crabs I have eaten have been from commercial establishments so that the "spot" where they were removed from the Bay is never fully disclosed. In fact, I couldn't really ever taste a difference between Chesapeake crabs and those I have taken from the Barnegat Bay in NJ (I actually prefer the latter, but that's probably because I can cook them within a half hour of "boating" them). Season seems to affect crab taste more than terroir, as well as the condition of the bottom (muddy or sandy especially) when they are removed from their home.

      Nevertheless, I am certain there is a distinct impact upon oysters according to which part of the Bay they are "farmed". I had a friend who "grew" the most saline oysters (and most tasty) I have ever had on the lower west side of the Bay. There's a lot of discussion of the effect of "merroir" on the taste of oysters. See e.g. Thus, I (believing, wholeheartedly in merroir - being a lifelong fisher, crabber, and seafood eater) am mighty intrigued by the question you pose.

      4 Replies
      1. re: MGZ

        Lower water temperature seems to make for a sweeter crab. The crabs from the gulf and points south of Chesapeake Bay don't seem as good. The warmer the water, the mushier and less flavorful the meat, in my experience. That is my non-scientific observation.

        1. re: flavrmeistr

          By that logic, crabs will always be better, no matter the part of the Chesapeake from which they are taken, in July than they will be in September. I don't buy it. It may be valid that Gulf crabs, spending their entire lives in warmer water, have a slightly different texture that some of us might notice when compared to Chesapeake crabs. Nevertheless, I would bet that the difference noted has more to do with length of time out of water than the water from which they were extracted.

          1. re: flavrmeistr

            I think gulf crabs taste muddy. . . .

            1. re: drewpbalzac

              Yeah. I've caught 'em in Texas and Florida. They're not very good. Spiny lobsters, on the other hand, are excellent. Appalachicola oysters are also, but they don't travel well.

        2. I unfortunately, or fortunately lack the subtle palate to distinquish the origins of Maryland crabs especially those that have been steamed. Old timers use to swear by Wye River crabs,
          I enjoy the crabs at Mr. Bill's and my understanding those are mostly from Texas!
          Where I can taste the differnce is in the fresh crabmeat I purchase,Tthat asian stuff is tastless( attn: Phillips). I also stay away fro that Venezulian crabmeat also lacks "sweetness"
          Try to get Maryland produced crabmeat when possible, and it may well be from Carolina crabs, just processed in Maryland. Not enough data in yet on the quality of any of the Maryland Crabmeat Only TRUE BLUE designation.