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Crabs are a delicious and popular seafood item to be cooked and eaten at home or at various gatherings. Unfortunately, like all seafood and shellfish, they will begin to spoil over time and need to be discarded when they reach this point.
There are a few general guidelines for cooked crabs and similar foods that are easy to remember and will help avoid the misfortune of consuming rotten food. Food safety always needs to be considered when preparing and storing any foods in order to avoid illness and prevent the spread of bacteria.
In this article are the key points to remember when dealing with cooked crabs.
General Signs That Food Has Gone Bad
There are some general signs everyone should be aware of when preparing and storing food. These are good starting points to determine when food should not be consumed and discarded.
Usually, significant changes in color from when the food was initially cooked show that it has started to break down and needs to be thrown out. Another strong indicator that food has gone bad is a noticeable smell, especially for seafood items like crab.
Any kind of a strong fishy or salty smell is another reason that the crabs should be thrown out rather than eaten. Most rotten foods also tend to develop a wet, slimy texture. It is also important to use your judgment on anything that has previously been cooked and sitting in your refrigerator or freezer for a long time.
As a general rule most meats and seafood should not be kept for long periods of time after the initial preparation.
Cooked Crabs and Shellfish Shelf-Life
The general recommendation for fish, crabs, shrimp, and most related seafood is that they can be safely refrigerated and eaten for three to four days after cooked. Cooked seafood should be stored within a couple hours of the time it is finished cooking to maximize shelf-life and freshness.
It is also helpful to place leftover seafood in airtight containers or wrapping to prevent additional exposure to air and moisture. Beyond four days of refrigeration, cooked crabs should be discarded for safety and sanitary purposes.
Cooked crab can also be left in the freezer for 2 to 3 months and still stay safe to eat. When frozen food is thawed, it should be used or consumed as soon as possible.
Room Temperature Warning
Be careful not to leave cooked crabs at room temperature for too long. As a general rule, more than two hours of any food sitting at room temperature risks the growth of bacteria that can cause illness.
If your cooked crabs or any other seafood has been at room temperature for several hours, it definitely needs to be thrown out and can no longer be used for any purpose.
Always be mindful of the time when serving people at large events that tend to last for several hours, as this creates the risk of the food going bad before it is put away.
What the Various Temperatures Mean
It is also important to keep in mind what the common definitions of the temperatures discussed within this article refer to, as different ideas of what each temperature means will obviously affect the ability to store foods.
Frozen foods mean they are kept at zero degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Refrigeration is when foods are kept between 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Finally, room temperature is usually between about sixty to seventy degrees Fahrenheit. Anything warmer than this range may cause foods to go bad even quicker.
These guidelines are all important, and it is also necessary to use some common sense and basic safety measures. To summarize, cooked crabs should be used or stored within a couple of hours when initially prepared and served.
They can last for up to three or four days in the fridge or a couple of months when frozen and stored properly. Also, inspect any food before it is served because strange colors or smells indicate that the crabs could have went bad despite following the guidelines, which is possible with all foods.
Keep in mind that foods should also be stored in packaging that minimizes additional exposure to outside air. By keeping these basic rules in mind, you can cook and eat without worrying about spoiled food or sickness.
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