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Crab; soft-shell

These are crabs that have shed their shells, not a different species.

Most consumed in this country come from the U.S.A and are "blue crabs". The laws in America are very tight, to control stocks; so that crabs mustn"t be caught when they are soft, as this is their breeding period; so must be caught ahead of time, then held in a holding tank until they shred their skins.

Most come from farmed stocks, but when a crabber sees a blue crab, in the wild,about to moult, he puts the "peeler" in a special float until it sheds its shell. He/she then leaves it in the water an extra hour until the new shell hardens enough so the crab can be shipped, keeping a fairly close watch for the full six to eight hours the whole business requires.

If buying soft-shelled crabs (and they can be found frozen) they can simply be fried or grilled, and excellent served with tartare sauce.

Its peak season is July and August. See 'Crab'; "Blue Crab"; "Tartare sauce".

If you enjoy cooking take a minute to look at ‘Simon Scrutton French Cookery Classes’ on Google – and learn how to make top class bistro-style dishes. Suitable for beginners upwards. Small classes.

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