Brown Crabs, Edible, Good Seafood Guide

Brown crabs

Brown crabs are also known as “Cancer Pangurus” and are widely distributed around the British Isles. It is precious that the fishery gives preference to them and builds a high demand for catching them.

You can quickly identify this species by its unique qualities: from “pie crust” edges near the carapace and black pincers.


Brown crab is the giant crab species in British water whose carapace is fully mature, around 20 cm. Immature crab species may be about 30 cm long and have eight 9Ibs.

The outer shell of the brown crab is oval-shaped with orange-red color.

Like other crabs, brown crabs have eight legs and two strong claws with tipped black pincers.

One of the unique features of brown crabs is the pattern of edges along the carapace. Because of their bigger and stronger claws, brown crabs can cause a painful bite to humans when it comes across them.

Distribution and Habitat:

Brown crabs are present in the British Isles and areas with grass and rocks. The crab hides under a rock and prepares food. They are also found in European water, and their distribution range is from Norwegian to Northern Africa.

Although they are present in the Mediterranean in a minimal amount and completely disappear from the black sea.   

Feeding and Behaviour:

Same as all crabs species, brown crabs eat everything which they find. They can eat dead animals and shellfish like mussels and shore crabs. By using their claw’s power, they can capture other crabs to eat. They are also predators of the carrion on the sea bed.

Immature crabs prefer to live in the intertidal zone. As the crabs move into deeper water, they grow and increase in size. The mature crabs live in deeper water, about one hundred deep.

Brown crabs should be 15 cm across the carapace before they can reproduce. Brown crabs leave their shell and enter the peeler phase during their early life stages. But this shedding process slows down once a year when they get older.


It has been seen that brown crabs have an expected lifespan of about 30 to 40 years. Furthermore, In extraordinary circumstances, they can live for a longer time. Edible crabs may live for about 100 years.


Brown crab’s growth pattern depends upon the variety of food and water quality and temperature. They attain sexual maturity after ten years. They usually have intercourse during summer and spring. Copulation occurs after a female has molted. 

Females have eggs under the abdomen and are called “berried” during this time. At a time, females carry about three million eggs depending upon the size.

Brown crab reproduction

They do not eat and remain hidden under rocks to save themselves from predation.

In addition, fishing demand does not affect the larval supply. Larvae hatch in late spring and feed on plankton. Their survival rates are relatively low because of significant predation in this weak life phase.

The individuals undergo a process [metamorphosis], and then Juvenile crabs enter into the intertidal zone at the end of summer. They remain in this phase until they reach a width of 6 to 7 cm in about three years.

After that, they locomote to the subtidal areas. Mature male crabs live in intertidal and coastal areas while females move from inshore to mate, Offshore for releasing larvae, and then towards inshore for feed. 

Molting: Brown Crabs

Brown crabs cannot grow as linearly as other animals because they have a hard exoskeleton, creating resistance to growth. They must molt their shell and regrow new ones.

For molting, crabs will take more water and swell up. Crabs expand old skeletons, which separate, and as their hard skeleton melts, they become soft-shelled. At this time, they are unable and weak for prey and try to regrow a hard skeleton, which takes many weeks.

Is it safe to eat brown crab?

Many people are fond of eating brown crab and enjoy its taste. It is prized because of its delicacy and tasty meat. Its high demand can be guessed from this; they catch about 45,000 tonnes annually.

The brown crab has two types of meat; white meat, which is present in legs and claws, and brown meat of other body parts. In Norway, primarily, people like whole brown meat, and brown meat is popular in Portugal.

But many reports show concern about the high level of cadmium in brown crab meat. Despite this, there are legal laws about the quantity of this harmful matter in white meat. But brown meat has a high concentration of poison. So, brown meat is dangerous for health.

New safety limits for brown crab meat:

The new evidence shows that it is essential to have maximum cadmium levels set for brown meat to save consumers. But this evidence also shows that selenium can react with cadmium in the body and reduce its poisonous effects. 

After applying this formula to crabs, the researchers reached this stage where one-third of brown meat is possibly suitable for human purchasers. 

How to cook and eat brown crabs?

How to cook and eat brown crabs?

Brown crabs are easy to cook and can be prepared quickly.

  • First, take a pan, add water and salt, and put it on a flame.
  • When water boils, add meat into a pan and boil for 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Drain all water from it and leave it until it cools naturally.
  • Don’t wash the crabs because some natural juices may be lost.

Now, separate the white and brown meat. The brown meat is delicious, and the white meat is delicate.

  • Hold the shell and legs in your hand and cut the shell with the help of a knife.
  • When you find brown meat, Start eating. This is edible. White meat is also present inside the shoulders of tiny legs.
  • You should remove the gills. These are not edible.

Commercial importance:

Brown crabs are commercially very important and considered the largest crab fisheries in the world. A large amount of crabs is exported from France to Spain.

About one-third of brown crab meat is edible.


Brown carbs are found in British water and are unique in taste. They eat crustaceans and echinoderms. Brown Crabs are well-known as edible. They are considered a favorite dish for crustacean lovers. The method of cooking is straightforward. 

You can enjoy these beautiful creatures without any worry because their third half of meat is edible and delicious. The commercial importance makes them preferable and safe.

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