DUNGENESS CRAB, also known as San Francisco, market and common crab gets its name from the town of Dungeness, Washington where the first commercial catches were made. It is the most popular crab on the west coast and can be found from Alaska to Baja California. It has a hard shell that is light reddish brown and white to light orange underneath. The claws of the crab have white tips. They average 1 ½ to 3 ½ pounds and 8- 9 inches across the back. In the waters off Washington state they can grow to 10 inches across but elsewhere the average is closer to 7 inches. The Dungeness crab, like other crab molt to rid them of their shell and allow them to grow. In their first 2 years they will molt as many as 6 times a year. They have a lifespan of about 8-10 years. At 4 years they will have grown to harvesting size which is about 6-7 inches. Many areas have regulations restricting harvest of anything under 5 3/4 inches across.
Dungeness crab can occasionally be bought live but it is more frequently bought frozen or cooked in the shell. It can also be bought as cooked, picked meat. If you can obtain live crab make sure that they are lively. It will turn bright red when cooked. If buying whole cooked crab in the shell the crab should feel fairly heavy for the size, this shows a good quantity of meat. Also make sure the legs are tucked in. This will show that the crab was cooked live. Stay away from ones with dangling legs. About ¼ of Dungeness crabs weight will be meat which is a pretty high percentage in the crab world.. The larger the crab the better the yield will be. If you are using cooked crab, remember, just reheat it don’t overcook it. A very good video on how to clean the precooked crab can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEUp-2atU5I For tips on cooking and reheating crab see; HOW TO COOK DUNGENESS CRAB