If you are new to cooking blue crabs, you might be at a loss for how to prepare them. You are probably aware that crabs are boiled alive, but is that the only way to cook them? Continue reading to find out if you have to cook blue crabs alive.
Blue crabs do not have to be cooked alive. Blue crabs can be killed humanely with a stunner just before cooking. They can also be cooked within 24 hours of death, provided that the crab was frozen or refrigerated immediately after death. However, crabs can feel pain, so it is best not to boil them.
Cooking crabs (and other crustaceans) alive is a practice like no other. Read on to learn why crabs are cooked alive and if they feel pain.
Should Blue Crabs Be Cooked Alive?
Crabs have been cooked alive for 1000s of years. However, the practice of boiling crustaceans (lobsters, crabs, etc.) alive only gained popularity in the United States during the late 1800s. In recent years, there has been a shift away from this practice. This shift is a result of many people pointing out the cruelty of this practice.
However, others maintain that crustaceans do not feel pain. As a result, cooking crabs alive is still a common practice despite its opposition. If you are someone who can’t bear to cook crabs alive, you might be looking for alternative ways of cooking them – and understandably so. You might also be asking yourself if cooking crabs alive is the only way to cook them?
The answer is: no. Crabs do not have to be cooked alive. Also, many people dismember or cut open crabs while they are alive. This is not necessary as you do not need to prepare crabs while they are alive. It is also essential to consider your area of residence. Some countries have banned the practice of boiling crustaceans. So if you do so, you may face a hefty fine or jail time.
Why Do People Cook Blue Crabs Alive?
As stated before, the practice of boiling crustaceans alive only gained traction in the United States of America in the late 1880s. Why did it become so popular, you ask? Well, we know that boiling lobsters alive became a common practice because of one factor: taste. American chefs found that lobsters tasted better when they were cooked alive. So we can only assume the same was true for crabs.
The premise is this; the fresher the food, the better it tastes. For many people, crustaceans can’t get any fresher than when they are boiled alive. When a crab has been dead for several hours, the taste can become blander. In addition, the texture of the meat can change slightly. But there is also a second reason why modern-day people opt to cook crabs alive.
Cooking crabs alive helps to prevent shellfish poisoning. When a crab is dead, its body quite literally becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. The bacteria can release toxins that cannot be destroyed by cooking. Therefore, by eating crab that is contaminated by bacteria, you are at risk of shellfish poisoning.
Symptoms of shellfish poisoning can occur 4-48 hours after consuming contaminated shellfish. Signs of shellfish poisoning include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and cramps. Cooking crabs alive is a way to minimize the risks of developing shellfish poisoning – but it is not the only way. To reduce the chances of shellfish poisoning, you can also kill the crab before cooking.
You can do this by stunning the crab.There are electric stunners on the market that are designed explicitly for humanely killing crustaceans. If the crab was frozen or refrigerated immediately after dying, then you should eat the crab within 24 hours. This will help to reduce the chances of shellfish poisoning.
Do Blue Crabs Feel Pain When Cooked Alive?
Whether or not crabs feel pain has been a long-standing debate. Some have long believed that crabs (and other crustaceans) do not feel pain. It is believed that their reaction to boiling is not because of pain but rather due to a natural reflex response. New evidence suggests otherwise. A study conducted on hermit crabs has concluded that they exhibit behaviors that would indicate that they feel pain.
The study found that crabs who were shocked ran out of their shell, and crabs that were not shocked stayed put. This reaction would indicate that the shock was unpleasant enough for them to leave their homes (the shell). The study then conducted another test with mild shocks. The mild shocks were just below the threshold that would cause the crabs to leave their home.
One group of crabs was shocked with a mild shock, and the other group of crabs was not shocked. Afterward, both groups of crabs were offered a new home (a new shell). A more significant portion of shocked crabs decided to move to the new home compared to the unshocked crabs. Thankfully, studies like these have prompted governments to reconsider their laws concerning animal welfare.
In the years to come, it is likely that other countries will reconsider their legislation, given the clear evidence that crustaceans feel pain. So, yes. Crabs (and other crustaceans) do feel pain. So it is best not to boil them as this is a cruel way of killing them.
Rather kill them just before cooking. You can also freeze dead crabs or refrigerate them. If they are frozen or refrigerated, you should consume them within 24 hours to reduce the risk of shellfish poisoning.
Blue crabs do not have to be cooked alive. If your country prohibits boiling crustaceans, you should stay away from this practice to avoid a hefty fine or jail time. However, new evidence suggests that crabs do feel pain.
So it is best to stay away from this practice as it is a cruel means of killing crabs. Killing crabs with a stunner is a more humane way of killing crabs. It is best to kill the crab just before cooking for fresher and safer meat.