Susan Eberts Steamed Crabs

If you don’t have a crab-steaming pot, a 32-quart tamale steamer makes a dandy stand-in for 2 dozen or fewer crabs. Alternatively, you can use 3 or 4 empty 6-ounce juice cans placed in the bottom of a large water bath canner to raise the canner’s rack up high enough that the water doesn’t reach the crabs.
August 28, 2015


Combine the beer, vinegar, peppercorns, garlic and bay leaves with 6 cups of water in the bottom of a 32-quart tamale steamer or water bath canner with a rack about 4 inches up from the bottom over high heat. Place the live crabs in the freezer until the water comes to a boil: They’ll be easier to handle and less likely to fight.

Reserve ½ cup of Chesapeake Bay seasoning to serve at the table, and mix the salt into the remaining cup. When the water boils, place a layer of 6 crabs right-side up in the pot, and sprinkle with ¼ cup seasoning. Continue layering the remaining crabs and seasoning, ending with the fourth layer. Cover and steam for 25 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat source, and let it cool, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes. Lift out the steaming basket or canning rack and transfer the crabs to a table covered with butcher’s paper or newspaper. Pass around the melted butter and the reserved seasoning.

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Chesapeake Bay Seasoning

I make this recipe and store it in a 48-ounce plastic rice container; it allows enough headroom to shake up the herbs and spices, plus has a wide mouth and tightly fitting screw-on top


  • 2 bottles locally brewed beer, your choice
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 dozen live male blue crabs
  • 1½ cups Chesapeake Bay Seasoning (recipe follows), divided
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 1 cup butter, melted
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