Market Name: Jonah crab
Scientific Name: Cancer borealis
Common Name: Jonah, Atlantic Dungeness
Flavor: Mild
Texture: Medium/Firm

Not long ago, Jonah crabs were considered little more than a nuisance by lobstermen off New England and the Canadian Maritimes, who routinely tossed the crustaceans back when they came up in lobster traps. But in the 1990s, as demand for an alternative to established and costly crab species grew, fishermen found they could make extra money selling Jonah crabs to interested processors. The crab is found increasingly on menus and in retail cases around the country. Canada, Maine and New Hampshire are important suppliers. Jonahs are landed year-round by inshore and offshore lobster boats. They range from Nova Scotia to northern Florida but are most abundant from Georges Bank to North Carolina. Jonahs are close relatives of rock crabs (C. irroratus), and the two are often regarded as the same species in the marketplace. However, with an average carapace width of 7 inches, Jonahs are larger and have bigger claws than rock crabs.

Product Profile:
Jonah crabs are oval-shaped like Dungeness crabs, but with bigger claws. They have reddish shells and white undersides. Raw meat is translucent white; cooked meat is white with brownish-red highlights. It is flaky and sweet, often compared to Dungeness or stone crab, though it’s darker and heavier in texture than Dungeness. The biggest market for Jonah crab is processors and food manufacturers that ”blend” the less expensive meat with Dungeness or blue-crab meat.

You Should Know:
To test the quality of Jonah crab claws, break one open to see if the meat sticks to the shell. If it does, that indicates the claw wasn’t cooked or frozen at peak freshness.

Cooking Tips:
Jonah crab can be used in almost any recipe that calls for crab meat, including soups, stews, dips, stuffings and crab puffs and cakes. Large Jonahs make a fine cracked-crab entrée served with butter, lemon and herbs. To cook live crabs, place in boiling salted or seawater and cook for about 6 minutes per pound. When the crab has cooled, meat can be extracted from the legs and body.

Cooking Methods: Boil,Steam

Substitutions: Dungeness crab, Stone crab

Primary Product Forms:
Fresh: Whole cooks, Meat (also pasteurized), Cocktail claws, Snap-’n-eat claws
Frozen: Whole cooks, Meat (also pasteurized), Cocktail claws, Snap-’n-eat claws

Global Supply: