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July 27, 2018

Chefs continue to experiment with green crabs

Academics and chefs are continuing to find a food use for invasive green crabs.

The Forecaster reported that Brunswick Inn executive chef Ali Waks-Adams recently cooked beer-battered "popcorn"-style fried green crab to serve at dinner, using green crabs fished from Harpswell waters and delivered by Marissa McMahan, a senior fisheries scientist with the Brunswick branch of Manomet. "What we're attempting is to make it a more high-end culinary product," McMahan told the newspaper. Waks-Adams said she's also used a minced version of the crab to make broth and green crab rangoon.

University of Maine researchers have also been looking into possible food uses for green crabs that could lead to the commercial harvest of the invasive clam-eating species. Last summer, Maine Public reported that UMaine's food scientists tested green crab empanadas — a stuffed bread or pastry baked or fried in many countries of Latin America and in Spain — and found that two-thirds of taste-testers approved the product.

In 2014, the Bangor Daily News reported that Bay City Crab, a North Carolina-based seafood processor, had purchased 22,000 pounds of green crab from Boothbay Harbor-area clam harvesters and sold it to a cat food company. But Bay City Crab's owner, Chrissy Fulcher, told the newspaper that harvesters stopped selling crab to the processor because of its low offering price: 25 cents a pound — a price driven by packing and transportation costs.

In May, the University of Maine published a blog post that said predation by green crabs has been identified as a cause of Maine clam decline. Juvenile soft-shell "steamer" clams are not surviving to adulthood due to high levels of predation, according to Brian Beal, a professor of marine ecology at the University of Maine at Machias and director of research at the nonprofit Downeast Institute, who partnered with the Maine Clammers Association to conduct the research.

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