Stone crabs are found all along both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, but are harvested mainly from the bays and estuaries of Florida. It's actually illegal to harvest whole stone crabs. Therefore as soon as the crab is caught, the fishermen break off their claws and throw the crab back into the water. Only claws that are at least 2¾-inches (7-centimeters) long may be harvested. Stone crabs have the ability to regenerate new claws in about 18 to 24 months. Stone crab meat has a firm texture and sweet flavor, is low in fat, and is only sold precooked and frozen. This is because the meat will adhere to its shell if frozen raw. Therefore the claws are cooked as soon as they're harvested. Before serving you must crack all the sections of the shell with a hammer or nutcracker and pick out the meat. The meat can be used in recipes that call for lobster or crabmeat. [source: Meadows, Florida Seafood].
Here are some facts about stone crab claws.
- Stone crab claws are sold fully cooked.
- Stone crab claws are served intact. If the recipe calls for crab meat, you can pick the meat out of the shell.
- Shells and movable pincers should be cracked before serving the claws as an appetizer. Leave the meat attached to the pincer.
- Crab claws are sold in three sizes. Medium claws have six to eight claws per pound (453 grams), large claws have five to six claws per pound (453 grams), and jumbo claws have two to four claws per pound (453 grams). There are three to four crab claws per serving, depending on the size [source: Meadows].