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It's Soft Shell Crab Season on the Chesapeake Bay

Springtime means it's officially soft shell crab season on the Chesapeake Bay and its surrounding waters! Keep reading to find out more about soft shell crabs, our favorite recipes and the best local restaurants that serve them.

Soft Shell Crabs

Soft shell crabs are blue crabs that are in their molted state. They're available from late spring to early fall, with May through September being some of the best months.

Crabbers can spot a crab that's about to molt by seeing the development of a line on the last leg, known as the paddler fin, that starts out white and progresses to pink and then red as it grows closer to molting. These crabs are harvested in this stage (the peeler stage) and they're held in special tanks until they shed their shells.

The actual shedding of the shell can take anywhere from one to three hours, and then the soft shells are removed from the water to prevent hardening of their shells before they are cooked and eaten.

Our Favorite Soft Shell Crab Recipes

Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab

From Handy Seafood in Salisbury, MD, this deep fried recipe will give you golden brown and crispy soft shells.

Sautéed Soft-Shell Crabs

This recipe from MyRecipes calls for a light breading of flour, salt and pepper, cooked in a skillet over butter.

Local Restaurants Serving Soft Shells

Ray's Shanty

Always serving up only the freshest local seafood, Ray's in menu includes local soft crabs when they're in season.

The Crusty Crab Seafood Shack

With a menu full of fresh local seafood, The Crusty Crab Shack offers up local soft shell crabs whenever they can catch them.

Don's Seafood Restaurant

A Downtown Chincoteague staple since 1973, Don's serves soft shell crab entrees and sandwiches.