The Premium Crab

October 21, 2015

At Coveside Crabs, we grade crabs into three categories: #1 Males, #2 Males, and #3 Females. The crew of the “Island Girl” culls the crabs before docking to insure that EVERY crab is of PREMIUM quality and meets exact sizing to our highest standards. #1 Males are a minimum of 6 inches and go up in size. The largest crabs are generally the fall crabs, the ones caught after Labor Day. #2 Males are measured between 5 ¼” – 5 7/8”. By Maryland law, we can catch 5” crabs until mid-July. We never keep any crab below 5 ¼”. We leave these in the bay to catch another day. Here, at Coveside, there is NO difference in QUALITY between #1 and#2 crabs; it is simply a matter of size. Our #3 crabs are female crabs that are of mixed size, but all meet our premium standard. Our soft-shelled crabs are priced by size and all are removed from our tanks within 2 hours of sloughing to assure pristine quality. There is no industry standard for grading hard crabs. For instance, a crab that is graded "large" in the lower Chesapeake Bay region would be graded "medium" in the upper regions. Use the following guide as a general rule if you choose to purchase crabs at another location (But, Why would you???):

  • Colossal - Hard crab measuring 6 ½ inches or more.
  • Jumbo - Hard crab measuring 6 to 6 1/2
  • Large - Hard crab measuring 5 ½ to 6 inches in size
  • Medium - Hard crab measuring 5 to 5½ inches in size
  • Small- Hard crab measuring 4 1/2 to 5 inches in size, usually females.
At Coveside, we consider these random categories as bad for the customers because they mean NOTHING! Again, generally, when purchasing live crabs from crabbers, not middle men, there will be only three types available from which to choose. It is important to remember that size depends mainly on the region. A bushel of Number Ones purchased in North Carolina might be graded as mediums using our chart. A bushel of Number Ones purchased in Maryland might be graded as large. A “premium” bushel of #1 in Maryland should weigh 40 lbs. Our #1 bushels weigh a minimum of 45 lbs. and often weigh 48 to 50 lbs. That is our definition of “premium”! At Coveside, you know that you are buying only premium Maryland crabs caught in the bay by us. Another important factor to consider when purchasing live blue crabs is how heavy or "fat" the crab is. Crabs that have recently molted will be light, hollow (full of water), and contain little meat. Crabs nearing the end of their molt cycle will be heavy and full of meat. These latter crabs are THE ONLY CRABS WE SELL! One crew member hand squeezes every crab on board to insure a premium product. If you would like to learn how to determine a “fat” crab from a “light”, just ask us. We love to teach and we are passionate about our crabs, what we do and how we do it!