Do you relish eating seafood? If the answer is a yes, then chances are, you love crabs. I most certainly do.
These delicious crustaceans are loved all over the world for their savory flavors and high nutritional value. From crab cakes to fried crabs, there are a whole lot of ways you can enjoy them.
However, while purchasing crab at the farmer’s market or superstore, many people have distinct preferences for male or female crab.
You may like the meatier body of male crabs or the sweeter taste of female crabs. Or if you are stocking up your store, you might need to cater to customer demands.
It is perhaps wise to leave the debate on male crab vs. female crab on culinary experts and individuals. This article will guide you on ways to identify male and female crabs and separate them effectively without fault.
A Study in Crabs
Before you learn about differentiating factors of male and female crabs, perhaps it would be informative to delve into crabs as a species.
Crabs are crustaceans also classified as decapods. They bear close physical resemblance to lobsters and crawfish. Like other crustaceans, their bodies are covered with a hard exoskeleton. They come in various shapes and sizes.
The hard exoskeleton covers the part of the crab that is actually edible. However, in the case of some varieties such as soft shell crabs, people eat the crab whole.
Crabs are found basically all around the world. They are found in oceans, rivers, lakes and water bodies and even on land. Due to their wide availability, you can almost always find crab at your local superstore or farmer’s bazaar barring a shortage.
Male Vs Female Crab: What’s The Difference?
If you haven’t tasted or cooked crab before, you may have this very valid question. How does a male crab differ from a female crab? And more importantly, which one is better? The answers to these questions are not quite so simple. Here’s a quick overview.
It is quite often stated that while male and female crabs boast similar properties, female crabs boast denser meat. Male crabs have flakier meat, although in higher amounts. There is also an argument that female crabs have a sweeter flavor.
In stores, people often have a distinct preference for one or the other. Many people like to buy male crabs only simply because it offers male meat. There is also the argument that female crabs should not be consumed to enhance reproduction.
Male Vs Female Crab: How to Identify?
As you already know by now, there could be a few valid reasons you may want to pick either male or female crab over the other.
While knowing your preference is an important first step, it is also essential to know how to differentiate. Thankfully, it is actually quite simple to identify male and female crabs based on their physical traits, if you just know how.
Here are a few effective ways you can tell a male crab from a female one:
Identifying by The Claws
One of the first ways of telling which one’s which is by taking a look at their claws.
The male crabs, also called Jimmy, have physical features distinct from that of female crabs, also known as Jenny. Some of them are apparent instantly, while others may require closer observation
In the case of the blue crabs, the males have blue claws. However, females have red tipped claws instead. This difference is almost immediately apparent.
The bright vivid blue claws of male crabs give away their gender easily. In the case of females, the red is a bit less vivid, as only the tip of their claws is colored.
However, in the case of some species like fiddler crabs, one claw is significantly larger than the other in males. This is a bit harder to spot than the obvious difference in color.
Identifying by Observing The Apron
The apron in crabs is a shell underneath their body. It protects the bottom portion of the crabs.
The apron not only protects the crab from external forces, but more crucially bears the mark of its gender. You can easily identify a crab’s gender by taking a close look at the apron.
To do that, gently pick up the crab and turn it upside down. Avoid the claws or having too much movement.
Look closely at the underside, especially the shape. If there is a triangular shape in the underside of the shell, the crab is most certainly a male. A triangular marking, also resembling the shape of a candle, bears the mark of a male crab.
On the other hand, you may notice that the crab does not have a triangular shape on the underside. Instead, you will notice a wide, round shape resembling a ball. In that case, it is definitely a female crab.
To sum up in short, male crabs have triangular aprons, while females have round aprons.
Identifying by Size
Lastly, even other than different physical features, there is one good way of telling apart male crabs from female ones. That is by their size.
As a general rule of thumb, male crabs are noticeably larger than female ones. They are larger in almost all dimensions with a bigger body, longer claws etc.
For instance, an average male crab (known as Jimmy) is about five and a half to six and a half inches in length. In comparison, female crabs range between 4 and a half to six inches, gravitating towards the smaller size.
Size plays a key role in differentiating crabs. People often gravitate towards male crabs because of their larger size. Larger size means they offer more meat than a female counterpart.
Size is not as stellar a differentiating factor as the color of claws or apron shape, but it can still give you an idea about the gender of a crab.Especially at a quick glance.
Picking One of The Two…
Now that you are aware of the differentiating factors between male and female crabs, you should be able to correctly identify the gender.It will help you in any cases whether you’re buying or catching.
Then comes another choice; which one should you really get? Well depending on your wants and preferences the answer will be very different.
Let us attempt to look at the pros and cons of each gender of crab and find the best pick for you!
Advantages of Male Crab
Male crabs, or ‘Jimmies’, are the most in demand crabs. These are the most commonly sold or stocked in most stores.
Some of the key advantages of male crabs are:
- They offer more meat per crab.
- They have a more neutral, less sweet taste to them for those who prefer that.
- Catching them does not hamper crab reproduction nearly as much in case anyone is concerned about that.
- They are more available. Many stores sell exclusively male crabs due to their higher demand. You are more likely to find it at your regular supermarket.
Disadvantages of Male Crab
Despite their popularity, there are a couple of reasons you may not want to opt for a male crab. Some of them are stated as such:
- Male crabs typically cost more than female crabs. Due to their size and demand, male crabs have a premium added to their price. On average, male crabs can cost up to $25 more on average than female ones by the dozen.
- Male crabs have flakier, less dense meat. The meat is also not as sweet and less flavorsome to some.
Advantages of Female Crab
There are some who vouch for female crab despite them being less popular.
Let us take a look at why you may prefer to opt for female crabs over male ones:
- They cost noticeably less. By the dozen, female crabs can cost between 51 to 85 cents to one dollar when compared to male crabs. That may not seem like a lot, but this makes a huge difference when you are buying a lot.
- They offer sweeter, more dense meat. A lot of culinary experts prefer this quality of female crab meat, as it adds a unique flavor to dishes.
Disadvantages of Female Crab
Here are few of the downsides of female crabs:
- Catching too many female crabs may hamper reproduction of crabs, leading to lower supply. Some states even have laws regarding this.
- They offer less meat. As a whole, you’ll get less meat from female crabs, leading to lower nutritional value.
Whether you are a chef looking for the perfect crab for your kitchen or a storekeeper looking to find out what crabs are in demand and how to identify them. This article should act as an elaborate guide. Reading this article should have help you separate Male Crab vs. Female Crab.
Besides that, we also went over why you may want to pick one over the other with the aim to help you make the right call. We hope you can use your new know how in practice. And may your crab dishes taste better than ever!