The Stone Crab Season recently started on Oct. 15 and will last until May 2. Stone crab is a delicacy known for its sweet yet savory taste, and is in high demand during the season due to the intense labor of catching them and strict regulations.
Stone crab fishing requires a stone crab fishing license in order to catch them. Once given a license, the fishing process contains an extensive list of rules so that the stone crab population does not die out.
For each stone crab caught, the fisherman can only take one crab claw that must be at least 2.75 inches long, as a stone crab is able to survive with just one. Once the crab is caught, it returns to the ocean to reproduce and grow back the claw, which usually takes about one year.
Stone crab is served hot or cold and paired with cocktail sauce, horseradish, and a special remoulade sauce. The base of the remoulade sauce contains mustard, mayonnaise, and different spices. It is a light yellow color that is known to make the flavors of the stone crab come to life.
“I have lived in Florida my whole life and I always look forward to stone crab season because it only lasts half the year,” said Peyton Bailey, senior communications major. “It is the freshest crab you can get in Florida.”
The process of eating the tender meat of a stone crab involves cracking the shell with a utensil or hands.
“Stone crab is by far one of my favorite foods to eat when I visit Florida, it tastes like butter but better as the meat falls off so easily,” said Kaki McDaniel, a frequent visitor of Vero Beach. “There is no other seafood like stone crab.”
Stone crab is not easy to find especially since it tends to sell out at restaurants quickly. Stone crab is some of the most expensive seafoods on the market as it is only sold for half of the year.
For example, at Meat Market Tampa, one colossal claw can cost up to $60 or more. There are not many spots in Tampa that sell this oceanic delicacy but in both Clearwater and St. Pete there are many stone crab hot spots.
Frenchy’s in Clearwater and Billy’s Stone Crab are popular restaurants for stone crabs. Frenchy’s hosts an all-weekend festival dedicated to selling stone crab at a discounted price to celebrate the start of the season. The event is held Oct. 22-24. Frenchy’s is located at 7 Rockaway St.
Mike Gonzalez, the manager of the Frenchy’s Seafood Market, explained the market chain regarding this year’s 2021 stone crab season.
“It’s all weather permitted, meaning the moon and waves have a lot to do with crabbing,” said Gonzalez.
On average, the restaurant receives two-hundred to six-hundred pounds of stone crab a day on a day with good weather. However, the consumer demand for stone crab has decreased as the price has increased.
Last year’s price for a pound of medium sized stone crab which includes three claws was $18.99 and this year, the price increased $10 making it $28.99, according to Gonzalez.
“The price is so high it scares people’s away which shortens the percentage and slows the crabs down,” said Gonzalez.
Frenchy’s supplies thirteen different restaurants across the nation and is currently experiencing high demand in New York and Miami. Frenchy’s still sells about fifty pounds of stone crab a day.
Photos courtesy of Caroline McDaniel