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How do I? ...Can Meats

Selecting, Preparing and Canning Meat

King and Dungeness Crab Meat

It is recommended that blue crab meat be frozen instead of canned for best quality. Crab meat canned according to the following procedure may have a distinctly acidic flavor and freezing is the preferred method of preservation at this time.

Please read Using Pressure Canners before beginning. If this is your first time canning, it is recommended that you read Principles of Home Canning.

Procedure: Keep live crabs on ice until ready to can. Wash crabs thoroughly, using several changes of cold water. Simmer crabs 20 minutes in water containing 1/4 cup of lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of salt (or up to 1 cup of salt, if desired) per gallon. Cool in cold water, drain, remove back shell, then remove meat from body and claws. Soak meat 2 minutes in cold water containing 2 cups of lemon juice or 4 cups of white vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of salt (or up to 1 cup of salt, if desired) per gallon. Drain and squeeze meat to remove excess moisture. Fill half-pint jars with 6 ounces of meat and pint jars with 12 ounces, leaving 1-inch headspace. Add 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid or 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to each half-pint jar, or 1 teaspoon of citric acid or 4 tablespoons of lemon juice per pint jar. Add hot water, leaving 1-inch headspace.

Adjust lids and process following the recommendations in Table 1 or Table 2 according to the canning method used.

Table 1. Recommended process time for King and Dungeness Crab Meat in a dial-gauge pressure canner.
  Canner Pressure (PSI) at Altitudes of
Jar Size Process Time 0 - 2,000 ft 2,001 - 4,000 ft 4,001 - 6,000 ft 6,001 - 8,000 ft
Half-pints 70 min 11 lb 12 lb 13 lb 14 lb
Pints 80 11 12 13 14

Table 2. Recommended process time for King and Dungeness Crab Meat in a weighted-gauge pressure canner.
  Canner Pressure (PSI) at Altitudes of
Jar Size Process Time 0 - 1,00 ft Above 1,000 ft
Half-pints 70 min 10 lb 15 lb
Pints 80 10 15


This document was adapted from the "Complete Guide to Home Canning," Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539, USDA, revised 2009.

Reviewed November 2009.

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