Sarah’s Soft Shell Crab Farm   4 comments

Have you ever seen a soft shell crab farm?

My high school friend, Sarah, and her husband, Pat, run one in Oxford, Maryland. Oxford is a quiet little town on the Eastern Shore, just near Easton.

Another h.s. friend, Colleen, and her husband, Pat, went over with me. Pat and Sarah gave them a lesson on how their operation works.

Each section is called a float. They have 8 floats. They pretty much have it down to a science. They have a criteria on which float they put these small crabs, called peelers. These are crabs ready to shed their shell. They can tell by looking at them how long it might be for them to shed their shell and become a soft crab.

Below is a video link to a crab shedding it’s shell. I sped it up to 3X. Look how much bigger the crab becomes once the shell is shed.


Once they shed their shell, they have a certain time to get them out of the water and into refrigeration to preserve them until ready for cooking. Check out these jumbos below ready for market.

The floats are checked every 4 hours. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Yes, that’s right, no exceptions and no vacations…..

Sometimes while Sarah is checking the floats, she gets hungry. NO NO, SARAH, you MUST fry the soft shell first. They are not meant to be eaten like sushi.

While Sarah and Pat are tending to the soft shell crabs, sons, Will and Bo, are getting ready for the next day of crabbing for hard shell crabs.

They put out trotlines in the tributaries off the Chesapeake Bay. A trotline is a line of rope with bait every so many feet. There is also a science to what they use for bait. I can’t tell you what they use as it is their secret competing for the biggest catch. The lines vary in length usually hundreds of feet which sit at the bottom of the river. There is a science to running the lines, too. As the boat runs the line, the line comes up to the top of the water and they scoop the crabs off the bait. Pat also runs a trotline from his boat. These crabbers are so good, they can run the boat AND scoop the crabs at the same time. Not to mention calling the size for which basket they go in. Up at 3 a.m. and in by 1 p.m. My hat is off to them! GO PAT AND WILL!

After checking the floats, we had time to run over to their property where they have a huge garden. First we stopped by the fruit stand to drop off some tomatoes for the stand to sell, but I think we should have stopped at the garden first. We picked almost another bushel basket, among other things, watermelon, cantaloupes, beets, peppers, cucumbers, squash…..

After the garden, we went into town and got some terrific homemade ice cream. I think our whole day was surrounded by food. What a great way to spend the day.

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Posted August 3, 2010 by carolnbill in Friends, High School, Travel, Uncategorized

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4 responses to “Sarah’s Soft Shell Crab Farm

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  1. Sounds like you had a great visit to Oxford! Thanks for your mouthwatering descriptions of the places you visited. Next time you come over, check out our website at http://www.tourtalbot.org or our blog at tourtalbot.wordpress.com for more info on upcoming events, places to visit, and things to do!

  2. We always enjoy Oxford. Our friends live there and keep us informed on the events. We love Oxford Day and the Cardboard Boat races.

  3. My parents lived across the street from Sarah and Pat in a home now owned by my sister. We have long enjoyed the yumminess of their soft crabs. Too bad I live out of state!! Very nice blog entry here. Well done.

    Christopher Wroten
  4. We love going over to visit Sarah and Pat.

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