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Old 08-23-2003, 03:44 PM
amoamasamat amoamasamat is offline
Join Date: Aug 2003
Do crab gills-"dead man's fingers," really make you ill if you eat them?

I have always been told that to properly prepare the cooked Maryland Blue
Crab (either hard or softshell), after cracking off the shell the gills must
be removed. These are feathery-looking spongy structures also called "dead
man's fingers" underneath the shell and over the meat. Supposedly, eating
these structures will make you ill. I find it improbable that there is a
poison that could be present in the gills but not in the rest of the crab.
I also can't quite see it as a concentration repository for bacteria (like
shrimp veins, I suppose). What do you know about it? (There is also a
variety of coral called "dead man's fingers" too. No relation.)

(These instructions actually apply to all crab preparation).
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Old 08-23-2003, 03:49 PM
Ice Wolf Ice Wolf is offline
Join Date: Jan 2001
From this page on crab preparation:

Pull away the grey gills – or ‘dead man's fingers' – from the crab's body and discard. In spite of the name, these are not actually poisonous, merely tough and indigestible.
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Old 08-23-2003, 03:56 PM
Fretful Porpentine Fretful Porpentine is offline
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Bohemia. A seacoast.
Posts: 5,890
Nah, pretty much everyone in my family has tried eating them at one time or another. None of us got sick, although I don't know that anybody was particularly eager to repeat the experiment.
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Old 08-23-2003, 04:37 PM
BiblioCat BiblioCat is offline
Join Date: Jun 2000
They don't taste very good, either. We have steamed crabs all the time, and I've gotten them in my mouth by accident several times. They're a very odd texture and taste really nasty. I just spit it out and keep going after the meat.

I got food poisoning from crabs once, and while my MIL was convinced it was from accidentally eating a piece of the gill, I'm pretty sure it was from eating one that was already dead when it was steamed. That will make you sick as a dog.
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Old 08-23-2003, 06:17 PM
SoulSearching SoulSearching is offline
Join Date: Mar 2002
You have to cook a LIVE crab or else you'll get sick???
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Old 08-23-2003, 06:29 PM
BiblioCat BiblioCat is offline
Join Date: Jun 2000
Yes, when you steam them, they must be alive. Any that are dead should be thrown out.

If they're dead when you steam them, you'll get sick.
The bacteria multiplies very quickly.
Here and here. At the secind link, you need to scroll down to the "important note."
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