apron of a male crab resembles the Washington Monument; the mature female’s
apron looks like the Capitol dome.
BUSHEL: A basket containing any number of crabs, depending on their size.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has a general conversion rate:
One bushel equals 40 pounds or seven dozen crabs. That amount refers to
5½-inch male or female crabs.
CALLINECTES SAPIDUS: The Greek/Latin scienti;c name for the Atlantic blue
crab. It translates into “savory beautiful swimmer.”
JIMMY: A male crab with blue-tipped claws. It comes in two sizes, No. 1 and
No. 2. The No. 1, prized for crab feasts, is larger. The No. 2, sometimes called a
“whitey crab,” has recently shed its shell and has less meat. Both jimmies vary in
size throughout the season, which runs from April until November or December.
MOLT: The process by which a crab grows by shedding its shell for a new one;
this can happen more than 20 times. Male crabs molt throughout their lifetimes,
while females stop molting when they reach sexual maturity.
MUSTARD: The gelatinous yellow matter found inside a cooked crab. It’s
the crab’s hepatopancreas, the digestive gland that ;lters impurities from the
crustacean’s blood. Depending on the waters from which the crab was harvested,
it can contain contaminants, so to be on the safe side many people avoid eating it.
PICKING: The act of removing the meat from a crab.
SALLY: An immature female crab that has not yet mated. It has a triangular-shaped apron and reddish-orange-tipped claws.
SOFTSHELLS: Crabs less than 12 hours after molting. (It takes two to three days
for the shell to fully harden again.)
SOOK: A mature female crab, with reddish-orange-tipped claws. According to
Cameron’s Seafood, sooks tend to have denser meat than jimmies.
know your crabs
Talk like an expert with our guide to crab lingo
male crab female crab
Timothy, have lived since 1969, and where
they’ll host a half dozen or more crab feasts
again this summer. Not surprisingly, Arnson
hosts her own crab feasts at her home in
the Takoma neighborhood of D.C., where
she puts many of her tchotchkes to use.
Maureen Arnson, left, and
Mary Gorman with some of the
items from their crab collections