So let's keep this simple, first thing we need to do is define what a soft shell crab is...
Our beloved Maryland crabs that are consistentlyIn our waters, have to shed their hard shell and get ready to "step into" a new one when the time comes to "molt". This is the process of growth that happens a couple times a year.
So it makes sense that in this process, the old shell comes off, leaving the tender soft shell under me for just a short window. The crabs actually back out of their shell and continue on, often getting into a crab trap along with the other crabs going after bait.
These crabs are called "peelers", and must be removed from the water quickly and put into a special tank. We in the restaurant business get our soft shell crabs live, the are usually packed on top of straw or hay and covered with wet newspaper. Yes they are alive, we do have to kill them in the restaurant and clean them right away to get into you as a beautiful seafood plate.
They are available generally from May through Halloween every year. We have a supplier that only deals in soft shell crabs, that's why they are so amazing! The location of the our source will depend on what area is producing the most. We get them from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and yes Maryland!
Usually enjoyed panfried with butter and garlic, or try crispy style or also sautéed with tomatoes garlic & white wine. Quite frankly, they're great in all forms.
I'm happy to answer any more of your questions around soft shell crabs...feel free to e-mail me. I'll be sure to get back to you about these beauties from the ocean thanks for reading and say hi next time you're in!