Sometimes called a clam or seafood steamer, This type of steamer is usually available at hardware stores nationwide.
The steamer that I recommend consists of three separate parts: a bottom pan which holds the steaming liquids, an upper pot for holding the crabs (the bottom has holes to allow the steam to pass through), and a lid on top to keep the steam in. This particular type of steamer is constructed of porcelain coated steel and is very sturdy. The pot shown at right holds 19 quarts which is between three and four dozen crabs depending on their size. For larger batches of crabs, an 80 quart steamer pot will easily hold one full bushel of live crabs with room on top for fresh corn on the cob.
If you do not have a steamer-pot, any large pot will do as long as the crabs sit on a rack about 3 inches from the bottom (there should be a 2 inch space between the liquid and the crabs.) The rack should be sturdy (crabs will shuffle around in the pot) and should allow the steam to rise through or around it.
For best results the steamer should be used in conjunction with a free-standing outdoor propane gas burner (the one shown in the picture at right will generate 150,000 BTU.) If you use a standard stovetop expect longer cooking times since it'll take longer to heat and maintain the proper steaming temperature (using a gas burner also keeps the smell outside.)
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