How we handpick a crab
The best grade of crab meat is handpicked. This refers to the method by which the crab has been processed (by hand) and ensures the flavour of the crab meat is unadulterated. By contrast ‘machine processed crab’ is produced by using water or air to blast the crab meat from the shell which has a detrimental effect on the flavour.
Crab producers are legally allowed to label crab handpicked if at least 5% of the crab is actually handpicked; the remaining 95% can be machine processed.
But Salcombe Finest crab is completely and utterly 100% handpicked by a local team of skilled pickers. No pressured air or machines, only teaspoons, crab picks and the occasional bashing from a rubber hammer.
So how do we do it?
1. After cooking and cooling, break up the crab into sections. With the crab on its back, twist the legs and claws towards the back of the crab. This helps pull out the whole joint.
2. You need to separate the main shell and body section next. Holding the crab on its back with your thumb on the underbelly, give it a firm hit onto a solid surface. You’re not aiming to break the shell, just loosen the body section in order to remove it.
3. With the sections separated, pull away the grey/brown feathery gills which are also known as dead man’s fingers. They are not poisonous (as many people think) but they do taste bitter and not very pleasant. They will normally be connected to the body section but check none have fallen into the main shell. Remove the white meat from the leg sockets of the body with a crab pick or teaspoon handle.
4. The claws need to be pulled apart into 3 sections. The bottom section can be twisted off and the white meat picked into a bowl. To crack the claw, use a hammer to break the shell and release the goodness!
5. The legs are full of white meat too. The larger sections may need some gentle encouragement from a hammer. Use crab picks and teaspoon handles to pick the meat into a bowl. If there is a really fiddly bit of leg, try sucking the meat out for a little treat!
6. All that remains is the brown meat in the main shell. Using a spoon, scoop it all out into a bowl (up to you whether to mix with the white or keep separate.) Almost everything is edible in the shell – any parts that look like shell should be discarded.
Our crab meat is weighed and vacuum-packed (the most hygienic method) before being packaged up with ice sheets to be delivered to your door.