04-15-2005, 05:11 AM
I've been on the fishing side of the forum for a number of years but only popped in occassionally to visit you folks. I just retired in Feb. with the anticipation of being able to fish whenever I wanted. With the price of gas @ $3.00 at my marina I won't be making too many run & guns trips during the week. With all that being said I'm looking forward to spending a couple of day a week crabbing the Middle River - Hart/Millers Island area. I have a basic knowledge of crabbing and whatever I need to know I know you guys are here to help. Right now my biggest problem is steaming them so that they come out dry. At least 1/3 of the batch have water in them. I'm using a double steamer and am addiing 1 cup of water and one cup of vinegar per dz. crabs. Because of the double steamer the crabs never touch any liquid. What am I doing wrong? Any help appreciated. Thanks much.
04-15-2005, 07:34 AM
by double steamer you mean a short water pot with a larger one that fits inside with holes in the bottom?
You don't need to measure the liquid in the botom of the pot so carefully and it sounds like you are using to much. Generally I use beer, but just one beer, so thats 12 ounces of liquid for an entire pot. Make sure the crabs arent knocking the lid loose on your pot by putting a brick or small cast iron skillet on top. You want a good seal. Also make sure you don't have a pin hole in the bottom of you pot.
If you are going to use water/vinegar, about 6 ounces of each should be plenty. Crabs only need to steam for 20-25 minutes until they are finished. Any more and the meat will stick to the shell making them a pain in the ass to pick, any less and they will be mushy..
1. start with a quality crab, heavy ,rusty #1 if at all possible.
light or "white" crabs do not have much meat in them and will retain water or condensation in them.
2. use only enough water in pot to steam without boiling dry
, some water will come from the crabs, I use about 2" in the botton of a pot that is big enough to steam 1 bu,, in a smaller pot you can use less water ,,vinegar is ok too but most places use only plain water.
Do not use beer-it has a tendency to foam up in the pot and soak the crabs-drink the beer
4.. Steam on HIGH HEAT, just long enough for crabs to be done
A full bu will take me about 30 mins from the time I light the burner, any less than a bu will take less time,,
Do not reduce the heat!! You want a good strong boil with plenty of steam!!
5. when crabs are done, remove them from pot immediatly or remove the lid from pot and let steam and heat escape for at least several minutes,do not just turn off heat and leave lid on pot, steam has to escape
This is my formula , and it has worked well for me
Hope it helps
04-15-2005, 07:48 AM
Funny but I find the reverse is true when it comes to the steaming times. Take this analgy - If you try to remove the meat from a raw crab, unless it is a peeler, it is "attached" to the shell and near impossible to seperate in any large pieces. Once steamed it is easier to remove. The meat cooks away from the shell. The longer you leave it cook the easier it is to seperate, hence getting mushy and coming away from the shell by itself.
In ref to the water - Generally your lighter crabs will have the water in them when you open after steaming. To solve this only keep the full heavy ones. This way there is no empty space inside the crab for water to get into and fill.
rock n crab
04-15-2005, 08:12 AM
I do a bushel at a time in my steamer. Normally I put two beer and enough water/vinager to cover the bottom of the pot with about an inch of liquid.... If you've ever squarched your pot you will understand....... hell on the pot and worse on the crabs... :(
I get good steam going and then put the crabs in. My basket is about 2 inches above the liquid, once the crabs are in I reduce heat enough to keep the steam going but not boil the water too much, I found the water boiling up was soaking the bottom crabs and making them fill with water......Normally 30-40 minutes is the ticket but I check by sampling claws from the top of the pot. Once the claw on top comes out easily I throw my shrimp on the top and sprinkle a little seasoning on them and put the lid on and turn the flame off.... Let this sit for about 2-3 minutes and waaaalaaaa
Try it several ways, find what works best for you and have a blast doing it; that is part of the fun.
I agree with the light crabs being wet always, it seems they are always full of water so it's best to not even bring them home.......
04-15-2005, 09:18 AM
Quality of the crab has alot to do with it. Having said that, you can't always end up with all heavy crabs at the end of the day. As rj mentioned, hit them with high heat right off the bat.
You may also want to try taking the lid off after a short while and switch to a towell or burlap for a lid. The water won't drop back into the pot. Won't make them fuller, but they won't be watery either.
04-15-2005, 12:31 PM
Hey guys thanks for all the responses. Looks like there are five things that I need to change.
1. I have noticed that the light crabs are the ones with water in them. Got to watch that.
2. I've probably been using too much liquid and generating more steam than necessary.
3. Need to get the liquid steaming before adding crabs.
4. May have to vent the top so the steam doesn't condense back on the crabs.
5. Remove the lid and replace with a towel once the crabs are dead. Probably part of #4.
I'll give these a try and thanks again.
04-15-2005, 02:17 PM
6. Like RJ said, HIGH HEAT. Makes all the difference.
04-15-2005, 02:45 PM
High pressure heat, don't vent the top and you will get less water, if any at all if crab is full.
04-19-2005, 03:14 PM
i do not use vunigar just water enough not to boil out put about 2 sheets of paper on to of them.use spring clamps on the lid. al the crab houses i know just use water