Why I Don’t Eat The Crab’s “Mustard”

Everyone loves the mustard in crabs, it isn’t fat, that is a myth.  The mustard is actually the crab’s hepatopancreas.  An organ that filters impurities out of the crab’s blood.  That is where chemical pollution collects  and is the main reason I prefer to clean my crabs.  The tradition of eating the mustard might not be a good idea anymore.  Back in the day, a hundred plus years ago this wasn’t as much of an issue, but today it is a serious issue with bioaccumulation.

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Cleaned crabs on the grill cooking

The hepatopancreas is an organ in the digestive tract of arthropods and mollusks. It does the job of two organs present in mammals, the liver and the pancreas.   These organs clean our systems and produce digestive enzymes.  The hepatopancreas does both for arthropods and mollusks and will collect heavy metals.  Larger predators eat these “critters” and bioaccumulation occurs, the transferring of harmful pollutants and toxins up the food web.  Just like the problem with mercury in Tuna and other fish, that contamination transfers to the consumer.

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Blue Crabs ready for the cleaning table
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Cleaning your crabs will eliminate the possibility of eating heavy metals or any pollutants collected in the  hepatopancreas.  Same with the soft crabs, just cut that section out.  The bonus of cleaned crabs is you can flavor your crabs and cook them in a variety of ways; steamed, sautéed or grilled.  Cleaned crabs are killer in spaghetti sauce. 

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Cleaned crabs steamed in garlic.

Also on a side note, not a fan of eating crabs that aren’t cleaned that have been feeding on rotting chicken for a couple of days, even fish can be questionable at times.  When you crab in poor water quality areas this can be a real issue with bacteria.  Then again I like eating hot dogs and tuna fish.  Just some food for thought.  

Fish On!
Rich King

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