Live Crab How to Kill Instantly and Humanely Cooking Dressing and Eating




About: Lateral thinker, Originator of Inclined Bed Therapy (IBT) Originator of Pocket Full Of Acorns Project. Originator of Operation OASIS.

Short video showing how to dispatch a large live crab instantly. This method prevents crabs from shedding claws, which spoils both the flavour and texture of the crab meat.
My Grandfather taught the family how to do this along with skinning and preparing rabbits, dressing ducks and chickens he worked in Birmingham Wholesale Market in fish, game and poultry and we had a varied and exciting diet.
Spud, our bull terrier is keeping an eye on the crab :)

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Step 1: Obtain Your Crab by Either Capturing It or Purchasing It From Our Amazing Fishermen.

The edible crabs we buy or capture around our UK / European coast are a lovely deep red / brown in colour and are generally clean when found in rock pools or captured in crab baskets by fishermen. If you live near the coast you might want to make yourself a crab pot and bait with fish.

However, like myself you will probably be comfortable with purchasing one.

Remember Cock / male crabs have huge claws and contain mostly white meat. Hen / female crabs will have smaller claws and therefore contain more dark meat and possibly roe / eggs.

Step 2: Tape Up Main Claws With Cellotape, Insulation Tape or Cable Ties As Shown

A large crab has immense crushing strength between it's claws, so it is wise to render these claws safe by binding their pincers together using tape or cable ties. They really can cause you considerable pain and injury so please take care.

Step 3: Turn Your Crab Upside Down Once Pincers Are Secured

Once your crab is upside down, you will notice a tapered flap at the back end. Raise this flap to reveal a tiny hole / vent.
Place a thin screw driver on the hole and drive it into the vent / hole with the hand or use something heavy to hit the screw drive if your hands are not strong enough. Wiggle the screw driver around
This will immobilize the rear / main nervous system and effectively kill the crab.
Now move to the front of the crab, and between it's eyes, again place screw driver and drive into the soft part under the main shell. Again wiggle screw driver around.
Now both parts of the nervous system are effectively dead and so is your crab.

Step 4: Place Dead Crab Into Large Pot / Pan of Boiling Water and Replace Lid

Heat a large pot / pan of water to boiling, leaving enough room so as not to overflow when placing your crab into it.

Submerge your crab in the boiling water and allow to come back to the boil before allowing a further 20 minutes for a large crab such as the one shown.

Killing the crab prior to cooking is humane and instantaneous, but it also avoids the crab from shedding limbs through shock, which often happens when boiling alive. This shedding of limbs will allow water to flood into the crab and effectively boil out the flavour.The stress of placing the crab in the boiling water alive can make the flesh tough.

Whereas the dead crab is relaxed when it enters the boiling water and remains intact and apart from the small holes made is relatively sealed. You will get some spongy protein solids in the boiling process forming in the water, but this is tasteless.

Step 5: Removing Legs and Body From Shell

Once cooked and allowed to cool sufficiently to avoid getting scalded, the video shows how to remove the crown from the main shell. Which is accomplished by loosening with a screw driver by levering front and back end of crown.
Once out you will need to remove the gills, mandible / mouth parts, including small stomach behind mouth parts and the flap at the rear.

Step 6: Scoop Out the Flesh From the Main Shell With a Small Knife

The crab inside the main shell for me is very tasty, though darker and creamier than the white claw meat, mixed in with the claw meat it tastes divine.

Using your small knife, scoop out all of this flesh into a bowl

Step 7: The Tools You Will Need to Dress Your Crab.

Small knife, preferably with curved blade.

Nut crackers for small claws

Water pump pliers or hammer to crack open main large claws. On the two main claws, a swift blow to the hinge joints will make separating them easy

Proceed to crack open and remove flesh with small knife from the claws and crown meat, including the brown butter consistency meat, if, like me you enjoy eating it.
Take care not to crack claws over the meat you have already extracted.

Save all shells in a double plastic carrier bag (2 bags, one inside the other) Crush shells with a heavy hammer, I prefer a club hammer. Once crushed add to your compost heap or sprinkle onto your vegetable / flower garden to provide essential calcium to the soil.

Step 8: Most of All Enjoy Your Fresh Crab Meals

Cook seeded brown toast, with butter, add crab and black pepper for an amazing assault on your taste buds.

There are many recipes, including crab cakes, adding lemon, chilli and garlic, slugs of wine etc etc but you can't beat the taste of freshly cooked crab with cracked black pepper though this is my opinion :)

Step 9:

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    28 Discussions


    1 year ago

    My husband likes to make crab bisque at weekends. I have always worried about the poor crab standing on tiptoe in the pan. Thank you for your instructions on dispatching the crab. I can now enjoy guilt free crustacean having carried them out to the letter.


    4 years ago on Step 9

    That is a stone crab. In the US it is illegal to have one. To harvest you are only allowed to pull one claw and release it back to the sea. That will regrow within a few months and can be harvested again. A renewable source of yumminess.

    Crabs are not human so we don't have to be humane.

    8 replies

    he is not pulling your leg haha. shedding their claw is a defensive mechanism. In fact, every time they regrow their claw, it grows back larger. Also here in the us we harvest blue crabs in massive quantities as they are much more plentiful. they do not have the same characteristic and therefore do not shed their claws when cooked alive.


    Reply 3 years ago

    No, they don't "shed their claw," and no, it actually comes back smaller. Also, adults don't grow their legs back.

    Hi Nathan, sorry for the humour :) Yes I do understand how crabs regrow limbs but didn't realise you were only permitted to remove one of the legs and return crab to ocean. Those blue crabs look nice, have seen videos showing them boiled alive but this method of humanely dispatching them can certainly improve the texture of the meat because it relaxes the meat prior to cooking. Smaller screw driver required


    I believe it is because their population is very delicate this side of the ocean. harvesting just their claw allows them to stay alive and reproduce. And yes, they are delicious! their meat is exceptionally sweet. I would love to try coconut crab at some point though


    Reply 4 years ago on Step 9

    Oh, and if it's illegal to have a stone crab, why are there around 2.5 million harvested each year on the gulf coast?


    Reply 4 years ago on Step 9

    We are human, so if you are civilized it is mandatory to act humane to any living being.


    3 years ago

    The humane part is Bu***hit, just call it for what it is. As an example, if i kill someone humanely, thas that make it ok?


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Beer seems to work too. Pour some on the crabs mouth. No joke. I was surprised at the effect beer has on crabs. Great instructable. I will keep this method in mind!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I like to put my crabs in iced sea-water for 15 minutes. It shuts them down and then there is no need for claw restraints. Then I pry off their shell and clean out the guts, into the boiler from there.

    Crab taste is different species to species. Being on the West Coast of North America, I get dungeness and red rock crab. I'm curious as to what your crabs taste like.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    By the way: Your image from step 3 already shows up in a imagesearch on google about "Crab nervous system" :)

    1 reply

    Awesome, hope it helps a lot of people to eat fresh crab knowing they are dispatched instantly and painlessly.