California

Good news for lovers of California’s Dungeness crab

A stack of imported Dungeness crabs are shown for sale as people eat them in the background at Fisherman’s Wharf last December in San Francisco. Though a toxic algae bloom prompted the closure of commercial crab season last year, local crab is expected to be on the menu this year in time for the holidays.
A stack of imported Dungeness crabs are shown for sale as people eat them in the background at Fisherman’s Wharf last December in San Francisco. Though a toxic algae bloom prompted the closure of commercial crab season last year, local crab is expected to be on the menu this year in time for the holidays. The Associated Press

Local Dungeness crab will be on the menu in time for Thanksgiving.

Last year, because of a toxic algae bloom fueled by El Niño off the coast, California wildlife and health officials closed both the recreational and commercial crab seasons through March. Local customers had to purchase from Oregon and Washington until the season was reopened when the toxins subsided.

This year, the recreational crabbing season will open as scheduled on Saturday. The commercial season is scheduled to open Nov. 15. Fresh crab should appear at local grocers soon after.

State health officials are giving consumers the all-clear to eat crab meat caught off Northern California’s coast, but as a precaution they’re advising against eating the crab’s internal organs where potentially fatal toxins can become concentrated.

Some people consider the guts a delicacy, called crab “butter.”

Health officials also warn against eating broth used to cook whole crabs whose guts haven’t been removed. The liquid is sometimes used to prepare dishes such as cioppino or gumbo.

Fresh crab is a significant part of the Northern California experience. Its succulent white meat is the centerpiece for hundreds of community fundraisers. Many families incorporate Dungeness crab into their holiday dinners.

Ryan Sabalow: 916-321-1264, @ryansabalow

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