Ramps. Heirloom tomatoes. Soft-shell crabs. Some delicacies have extremely short seasons. Soft-shell crabs can look a little intimidating...especially with their little spider-like legs intact. But they’re actually pretty easy to make at home. Here’s everything you need to know about the fleeting summer specialty.
What exactly are soft-shell crabs? They’re typically blue crabs that have gotten too big for the shells and recently shed them. Shortly (like, within three hours), they’ll begin making new, bigger ones, which is why the window to eat them is so short.
And when is soft-shell crab season? It usually starts in May and lasts through September.
How do I buy them? While you probably aren’t going to find soft shells at the supermarket, head to a specialty seafood store and you’ll spot them. Steer clear of crabs wrapped in cellophane, which typically indicates they were previously frozen. We suggest asking your fishmonger to clean them for you; a few quick expert snips will save you lots of time at home. And if you’re ordering out? Make sure you buy them in-season. A special probably indicates the chef just got some in (and is, naturally, excited). Oh, and when you get them home, resist the temptation to store them in the fridge for more than a few hours. Every minute the crabs sit in cold temperatures, they get tougher.