Soft Shell Crabs Are Here But Hurry….
Because They Won’t Last Long!
Right now on Hilton Head Island the delicious local blue crabs are going through the molting process, meaning they have outgrown their old shells and must shed them so their bodies can grow. During this very short period when the crabs shed the old shell their entire body is soft and edible. In a matter of hours the crab’s shell will start to harden. The entire process takes place each spring when the local water temperature rises to around 59 degrees and stays there over the course of a few weeks. It is during this time when local restaurants scramble to find a supply of the soft shell crabs for their hungry patrons.
This year Hudson’s Seafood decided to take matters into their own hands. With the help of Carolina crabber Rob Rowe they built a flow-through system in the old packing house section of the restaurant located on Skull Creek on the north-west end of Hilton Head Island. With this on-site system the restaurant should be able to process, sell, and serve around 6,000 soft shell crabs to their customers.
Rob Rowe and the restaurant’s General Manager, Andrew Carmines, watch over the crabs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When a crab starts to molt it literally backs out of its shell. During this time the crab is vulnerable to attacked by the other crabs so Rob and Andrew have to separate the molting crabs from the others. Its hard, long work but Rob says, “I’ve been doing this for over 15 years and it is always exciting to see the final stage with they back out of their shells.”