This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.
Wondering how long does crab last in the fridge? Perhaps you bought it in bulk on sale and you’re worried if it will go bad just sitting in the fridge.
Well, the good news is that crab, if stored properly, can last you for a long time, up to 3-5 days. But there are a few things you should know about before sticking your crab (fresh, cooked, seamed) in the fridge like where to put it and for how long.
So, how long does crab last in the fridge, how to store it properly and how to tell if it goes bad. Let’s find out!
How long does crab last in the fridge
The lifecycle of crab in the fridge depends upon how it's stored. You can either store crab meat steamed, cooked, or uncooked. Let's see how long each type can stay usable inside the fridge.
How long does cooked crab meat last in the fridge?
To make your cooked crab last long, refrigerate it within 2 hours of cooking. If you store it properly in airtight containers and aluminum or plastic foils, it stays usable for 3-5 days. It does stay usable beyond this time limit, too, if you keep the temperature at 0°c, but the quality doesn't stay the same.
How long does uncooked crabmeat last in the fridge?
The fridge life of uncooked, raw crab meat depends upon different factors such as expiration date, preparation, and storage method. You can store raw crab in the fridge for 3-5 days, and it must be kept in its original packaging. If you keep it in the refrigerator for more than five days, it will likely get too dry.
Try not to use crab meat if you've stored it for over five days, and clean the shelf to avoid food poisoning. However, frozen crab meat can last much longer in the fridge than the fresh crab meat from the seafood shop. You can keep it in your freezer for 3 to 6 months starting from the "sell by" date.
How long does steamed crab last in the fridge?
Let's talk about steamed crab, another delicious delicacy that many enjoy. If you plan to consume steamed crab within the next three days, you can refrigerate it easily. Some people store it for 6 to 7 days, but it might go stale and smell like ammonia by then.
The best way of ensuring it stays edible for the next seven days in the fridge is to clean it properly. Remove its gut and gills and only store its meat and shell.
How long do cooked crab legs last in the fridge?
You can refrigerate crab legs for 3-5 days before they become rancid. If your crab legs weren't on the ice, you should only refrigerate them for a few days.
If you've leftover crab legs, refrigerating them is a good option. You can maximize the life of crab legs by cooling them after cooking as quickly as possible. To refrigerate them properly, you need to store them in airtight plastic containers or freezer bags.
Storing crab legs after steaming seems to be the best choice, as it allows you to reheat them whenever you want without losing the taste. Also, ensure that you cook crab legs right after defrosting them.
How to store crab
The good news is that crab, if stored properly, can stay good for a long time. Here’s a few basic methods of storing your crab so it doesn't go bad anytime soon.
The most important thing to keep in mind while storing crabs is that they should be moist, not wet. If you plan to eat them within 2 to 3 days, just refrigerate them. However, freezing is the right choice if you want to keep them for a longer period.
Moreover, you can extend the lifetime of crab to 18 months through pasteurization. Once you have opened the can, it can be used within a week, given it's kept in a refrigerator.
Storing live crabs
Low temperatures can kill live crabs, so freezing them isn't a good option. The ideal temperature for storing fresh, live crabs is 50 degrees F/ 10°C. If you want to keep live crabs longer, you must feed them regularly with small fish and create the right conditions for their survival.
The right freezing temperature for crab is 14 degrees F/-18°C, at which it stays fresh for about three months. After that, however, it starts getting stale and doesn't taste as good.
Tips for freezing crabs
- The best way to store crab is to cook it whole. Once it's cooked, put it under cold water to bring its temperature down to room temperature.
- Dry the cooked crab by placing it on a towel.
- Remove the claws and pointed ends to not damage the freezing bag. Similarly, get rid of the stomach, gills, and mouth too.
- Put the whole crab in a heavy-duty freezer bag after wrapping it in a plastic wrap to stay fresh inside the refrigerator.
- A vacuum sealer also works really well.
- In the end, seal the freezer bag by wrapping in heavy-duty aluminum foil around it and putting it inside your freezer as soon as possible. This helps to prevent freezer burn.
Can you freeze crab meat?
The short answer to this question is yes; you can freeze crab meat. However, make sure you know the right techniques and the possible caveats before you go down this route. For instance, if the crab shell is intact, you should store it just like that.
Crab shells are an excellent, natural way of protecting crab meat from degradation. Shells can ensure crab meat is preserved for days instead of hours. Usually, the frozen crab can keep its taste intact for about six months. After that, it might not retain its original taste.
Remember that freezing crab meat might change its texture slightly because freezing makes it dry. Vacuum-sealing crab meat is the best way of keeping its freshness and taste intact.
Can crab legs go bad in the freezer?
No, crab legs do not usually go bad after you freeze them. However, they can lose their taste and texture depending upon how long you keep them in the freezer. You can freeze them for about 3 to 6 months without any issues, but try to eat crab legs as soon as possible.
You can extend this period to even 12 months, but they might lose their taste and texture. So, 3 to 6 months is the recommended time limit for freezing crab legs. Moreover, to ensure that they stay fresh, store crab legs in airtight packaging.
How to tell if crab has gone bad?
Trust me, the last thing you want is to get sick from eating bad crab. Fortunately, you can easily tell whether crab meat is safe through its smell, color, appearance etc. Here is how you can ascertain whether your crab meat has gone bad:
The first way to tell spoiled crab meat apart from edible crab meat is by smelling it. Fresh crab meat doesn't give off any smell or gives a slightly sweet odor. On the other hand, if crab meat gives off a fishy or sour smell, it has most probably gone stale, and you should avoid it.
Touching crab meat can also help you decide whether you should use particular crab meat or not. Touch and rub your fingers on the flesh, and if you find it wet or feel it has mucus, and slimy texture, it's probably bad crab meat.
The appearance of crab meat can also act as a clue towards its freshness or staleness. Fresh crab meat is pure white, and the shell is bright red. Therefore, if you detect any other color on the flesh or shell, you better avoid it.
Processed or canned crab meat has an expiry date printed on its packaging. If the packaging doesn't have an expiry date, it's a red flag, and you shouldn’t buy it. On the other hand, you can consume it if the expiry deadline hasn't been breached.
Can bad crab give you food poisoning?
Yes, eating bad crab can cause food poisoning, which can be hazardous for you. Eating rotten crab means you're putting toxins inside your body that can result in several health problems. Food poisoning is usually caused by Staphylococcus, a bacteria that grows in spoiled meat.
If you consume rotten crab, the pathogen will enter your body, and you will develop symptoms of food poisoning within hours. Similarly, another bacteria called Vibrio parahaemolyticus is specifically found in undercooked or stale shellfish and crabs.
After eating bad crab, the usual complications you face are dizziness, headaches, motor weakness, etc. Extreme cases can cause memory loss, coma, and even death. Usually, food poisoning from bad crab lasts from a few hours to around three days.
There isn't anything such as too much food safety, and the more cautious you are, the better. If you cannot eat your crab right away, refrigerating or freezing it is the best choice.
If you plan to store crab meat for longer durations, make sure you freeze or refrigerate it properly. Eating rotten crab meat can have serious health implications, so always follow the right storing techniques.