Lifestyle & Seasonal

Get crabby! Host a crabfest on the patio

Whether you call it a crab “fest” or a crab “feast,” it’s time to crack open the crabby party gear for a summer crab celebration.

Fresh seafood is one of the greatest tastes of summer. This is the time when a crabfest may be happening near you. Check local and shore-town calendars. A little travel time will be worth the deliciousness. Throwing your own feast, according to the experts, is the most authentic crabfest way to go. Crabs are easy to make and serve. Pair up some beers, some slaws and some salads and you’ll have a feast to remember.

Crabs (and sometimes crawfish and shrimp) are the main staples of any crabfest. Served alongside corn on the cob and baked whole potatoes, crabs can be steamed alone or bagged up and baked together with a healthy dose of seasoning. Family recipes for seasoning mix can be the stuff of legend, so consider hosting a crabfest-off if the competition is fierce. If you’re looking to keep things simple, Old Bay seasoning is quick and always ready to go.

Crab kinds

Depending on your area, the most common species of crab will vary. Blue male crabs are the most common species found in the north atlantic areas. The best idea is to go with the most-local crab species, which has spent less time out of the ocean en route to market. Check out Delishably’s pictured guide to the different types of crabs.

Canned, frozen, or “fresh”

Buying crabmeat in cans, frozen, or freshly cooked will save you the time of steaming or boiling live crabs. Crabmeat in cans is meant for use in recipes and not usually eaten by itself or is canned crabmeat usually a part of a crabfest. Frozen crabmeat was boiled then put in a freezer and shipped. Fresh crabmeat is the term for boiled crabmeat that’s never been frozen. Fresh crabmeat will be on display at the market laying atop ice or in a cold case.

Crabmeat sometimes isn’t totally shell-free. Bon Appetit suggests spreading out the meat on a flat pan and place it under the broiler in your oven for one minute. Crab shells will become more red under the heat, making them easier to pick out.

Live crabs

Raw seafood, as in still-alive-and-boiled-at-home, is the true chef’s preference, but this option can make some home cooks and their guests a tad squeamish. It’s worth a try if you are the adventurous type. Perhaps start the cooking before your more sensitive guests arrive. (See this discussion about the methods of steaming crabs vs. boiling them.)

Crab-eating etiquette

The “proper” way to eat crabs, crab legs and crabmeat is a bit debatable. Regional preferences and type of meal come into play. An informal picnic with family and friends need not be too strict, but peruse sites like Pinterest and Youtube if you prefer proper crab procedure. A little practice makes perfect, of course, and your guests may appreciate the learning experience.

Crabby decor item list

•          A checkered plastic tablecloth or plain paper table covering

•           Beer steins or glasses

•           Wet wipes

•           Bibs

•           Plenty of napkins

•           Sunglasses or other eyewear for protection against flying shells.

•           Crab mallets

•           A seafood cracker (squeeze tool resembling a nut cracker that breaks the shell)

•           Seafood forks (thin, long, two-pronged utensils useful for retrieving meat from crab legs)

•           Watermelon carved as a shark (can hold fruit salad)

•           Twine and white lifesaver mints to wrap utensils and napkins

•           Sea shells

•           Beach toys (pails and shovels can be centerpieces or hold utensils)

•           Any other sea-related decor

A crab fest is one of the easiest and best picnics to host on the patio in the summer. Dive in to crabfest season and enjoy this delicious bounty of the sea.

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