Whole Crab or Crab Meat: Which is cheaper?

Posted: June 15, 2011 in Food Advice
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I was recently faced with a choice. Pay $21 per pound for shucked crab meat or pay $6 per pound for a live crab. I decided that this would make for an excellent opportunity to determine if it’s better to buy the entire animal or let someone else do the work.

This is a dungeness crab purchased at my local fish market. I didn’t have the heart to do the deed myself, so I asked them to steam the crab for me.

This crab weighed in at around 1.25 pounds for a total cost of $7.79. After removing the shell from the crab and extracting the meat, I was left with about 2/5 pound of actual meat. And yes, before you think of it, I did remember to zero out the scale first. After some rough calculations, this amounts to $19.38 per pound. That’s nearly what it would have cost me to buy the meat alone!

Of course, there are advantages to buying fresh seafood. You can prepare it yourself, the presentation is 10X better, you know the meat hasn’t been sitting around for long periods of time. But, for me, the amount of time saved by not having to shell the crab and remove the meat is well worth sacrificing these benefits. I say the next time you’re in the mood for shellfish, consider going to your local fish market and buy the meat alone.

Note: my one exception comes in the form of soft shell crabs. If you ever come across these lovelies, do not hesitate to buy a few for your family. They are delicious breaded, fried, and eaten whole.

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