De-sanding Crabs Prior to Steaming

Do you have a good method for this? I steamed some live blue crabs yesterday, and although I gave them a rinse before I put them in the pot, they had quite a bit of sand under their shells. So much so that I had to rinse them once I removed the top shell, which kinda defeats the purpose of sprinkling them with Old Bay. Advice appreciated!

Maybe boil vs steam?

That’s a good idea. I was trying to use less Old Bay - boiling requires a lot. But I ended up pretty much washing off the Old Bay anyway, so…

Are you serving crab or seasoning?

Are your crab old/off tasting and require old bay?

Not at all. They were alive. They don’t “require” Old Bay; I like Old Bay.

Some of my fishing buddies steam vs boiling and, they remove the shell and rinse.

They claim the benefit is less cooking time.

Are you interested in roasting….

Probably the easiest thing would be to steam, rinse, and then season. And why I couldn’t come up with that myself is a mystery.

Roasting? As in putting live crabs in an oven and listening to them thrash around in there? No, thanks! Steaming is nerve-wracking enough.

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Is this a problem with East Coast vs West Coast crabs? Clams, of course, but I’ve never found even a grain of sand in a cooked crab.

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I think it’s a blue crab-specific problem. The only other kind of crab I’ve cooked at home was a Dungeness, and I had no trouble, there. And I’ve never found sand in crab I didn’t cook myself.

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I am perplexed by how sand can get inside the shell of a crab. If you gave the crabs a good rinse, there shouldn’t be any sand. I grew up near the coast and have a lot of childhood memories of going crabbing. Going out on the flats at low tide and there would be the swarms of fiddlers that would part like the red sea as I walked to the creek. Its one of the strongest memories I have as a child. Tossed out lines and traps. Bait of choice was always chicken necks which were practically free. I don’t recall sand ever being an issue. Don’t ever boil blue crabs. Steam only. My mom had this giant steamer that she would layer the crabs in and sprinkle old bay on each layer. The crabs were not happy, very crabby about that. Sorry, couldn’t help myself. The old bay never got into the crab. It seasons the outside so that when you’re picking the meat with your hands the seasoning gets on everything. The crab, the corn, you.


I was surprised myself. And I also went crabbing as a kid, off a bridge, with a chicken neck tied to a string. I steamed them exactly as your mom did, and (as mentioned) I gave the crabs a rinse beforehand.