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Author Topic: Live crabs that smell like ammonia after being cooked?  (Read 4022 times)
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frozenbarb
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« on: May 30, 2017, 05:35:19 PM »

My parents bought live crabs at a supermarket yesterday and stored them in the fridge yesterday and cooked them today. They swear they were alive when they were cooked. They were boiled for 20-30 minutes and removed from heat.
Upon opening it, it had a smell of ammonia in most of the crabs. These crabs were whiteies or paper crabs with a soft shell with very little meat.

I had spider crab claws that were removed from the crabs and iced down before cooking also exhibit an ammonia smell while testing it.

Google came up with other stories of live blue crabs reeking of ammonia.
What do you think is the cause?
Poor water quality where the crabs were harvested from? Long term crab storage causing muscle break down resulting in ammonia? Crabs sitting in their own filth and urea?
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discover
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« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2017, 06:54:38 PM »

I have been told that crabs or fish that smell like ammonia are not good to eat and I will never eat them. I can't answer your question as to why they smell that way, but I associate that with bad meat. Just my opinion.
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Hawkeye
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« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2017, 07:13:19 PM »

at least one died before being cooked.  I'm not familiar with boiling crabs - so i don't know if one being bad - does it "spread" to the rest of the crabs that are being cooked in the same liquid.

Crabs host a ton of critters (bacteria) and they are completely harmless/killed during cooking.  however if the crab dies before cooking, that bacteria breaks down the meat and generates the ammonia smell.

Folks who own saltwater tanks have probably heard of this before but sometimes they will "seed" a tank with a dead shrimp.  the shrimp breaks down and generates ammonia which starts the nitrogen cycle in the tank.  Anyways the conclusion is that something "live" doesn't generate ammonia (unless it's taking a pee)...but will do so when dead for a while.
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Hawkeye
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« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2017, 07:21:38 PM »

question - did you parents store them in water?  or just in the bag?  I'm thinking your parents killed many of them in the fridge.  if the crabs had been at the market a while - it reduces the likelihood they can survive.

A lot of folks on this board, their experience is with catching live crab and then storing in a fridge for a day or two.  your parents are getting the crab not direct from the ocean - but from a waterman who sold it to the supermarket (or a third party - who then sold it to the supermarket).

for future reference - the best bet is to buy them live, and cook them immediately. Even if the intention is to eat them a day or so later - cooked crab in fridge is still delightful. 
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evinrude 130
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« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2017, 07:54:38 PM »

Would not eat them, how was their appearance after steaming/cooking them?  If the apron was open or the eyes and mouth was nasty looking, I 'm not eating them.

Second the opinion about how fresh they were. Nothing guarantees good eating and safety like putting live, active crabs in the steamer.

 Did they get sick or have stomach issues shortly after eating them?
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« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2017, 03:49:21 PM »

Foodlion was fined a while back for using bleach to preserve old fish.  The crabs can smell that way for two reasons...either they were dipped in something to preserve them...or they were bad . to begin wit...either way .I wouldn't eat them and I would question the seller.
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NO CRABS WERE HARMED IN THE PRODUCTION OF THIS POST
WHAT WE'VE GOT HERE IS...FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE
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frozenbarb
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« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2017, 09:16:58 AM »

Determined that the crabs probably died in the fridge due to extreme cold temperature. They were good sized crabs too. The fridge was on the lowest temperature setting and I forgot to change it.
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Capt. Frank
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« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2017, 10:38:44 AM »

The crabs probably died from the lack of O2.  Crabs will die in a cooler if the lid is tight.



Determined that the crabs probably died in the fridge due to extreme cold temperature. They were good sized crabs too. The fridge was on the lowest temperature setting and I forgot to change it.
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