Shellfish tastes best when it is as fresh as possible, but storing live shellfish, like crabs, can be a challenge. Unlike other kinds of seafood, crabs can die quite quickly and become spoiled under the best of conditions. Once removed from their natural environment, crabs require special techniques to keep them fresh and alive in time for cooking.
Place a crab bushel basket in a cool, shady, well-aired outdoor location.
Fill the bottom of a crab bushel basket with approximately two inches of ice.
Place the live crabs on the layer of ice.
Soak a burlap sack in water until it is entirely damp.
Cover the crab bushel basket with the damp burlap sack.
Optimal storage temperature for live crabs is approximately 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Crabs can only survive six to eight hours in cold storage after removal from their natural habitat or an aerated tank. Do not store live crabs in water as they will deplete the water's oxygen and suffocate. Do not store the crabs in an air-tight container as they will suffocate.