King Crab Legs Come In All Sizes:
King Crab Leg sizes are determined by the number of legs per 10 lbs, not counting claws although claws are usually packaged in with them. Some claws are smaller than others for the same size because there is one killer claw, and one feeder claw on each crab.
You can also do this yourself very easily with this formula:
1 divided by leg weight in decimal (ie, 1/3 lb would be .33 lb) multiply by 10 = grading size
using this formula, a 1/3lb leg would be calculated as: (1/.33) X 10 = 30
Here’s a handy little conversion scale king crab leg sizes the per-leg weight and giving you the size grade since many retailers tell you only the per-leg weight in order to fool you into thinking it is big! The moral of the story is always to ask if you don’t know and find an honest merchant!
1/4lb leg = 40
1/3lb leg = 30
1/2 lb leg = 20
2/3 lb leg = 15
1lb leg = 10
1.5 lb leg = 4
2lb leg = 5
2.5lb leg = 4
3lb leg = 3
Typically anything above 20 is rated as 20+ but if you’re ordering and the retailer states the weight per leg, this gives you an idea of what you will be receiving. I know, it is a bit confusing since the sizing is per 10lbs instead of 1lb. Just remember, the smaller the number the bigger the crab leg size will be!
The smaller sizes are 12/14 or smaller; this means that there are 12 to 14 legs per 10 lbs, not counting the claws. There are a number of sizes in the middle and some places (like Fishex, see mail order) sell very small ones, in the 20 and even 30 size range which are TINY by comparison.
The largest King Crab Legs are 4/6 size which means 4 to 6 per 10 lbs. Many times the Jumbo King Crab legs are well more than 1 lb per leg. Very seldom but occasionally there are even larger ones but these usually must be special-ordered.
The largest Alaskan King Crabs can weigh more than 25 pounds and can get up to six feet from the tip of one King Crab Leg to another. These are what people typically consider as Colossal or Jumbo.
If you’re going to spend the money on the King Crab, may as well get the biggest and the best!
The red king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus) is not your archetypal supper crab species. Red king crabs are vibrant red to deep purple in color, with sharp spines covering the entirety of their shell. They have extremely long legs, full of meat. Reds become enormous with age, overcoming the size of a human infant at times, and weighing up to 24 pounds. They are incredible not only superficially, but also because reds, as they are colloquially known, live immensely deep in the ocean — up to 100 fathoms, or 600 feet deep. A relative, the golden king crab (Lithodes aequispinus), can live up to 400 fathoms, or nearly a half-mile beneath the surface. These are quite mysterious depths of the ocean, areas that humans know little about. Fortunately, because the red king crab species is commercially important, we have been able to study the life cycle of these deep-sea dwelling crabs. From reproduction to harvest, the reds’ journey can be traced.
The study of shellfish biology is well advanced. All crab species have five pairs of legs. Reds, though, hide one of their leg pairs inside their abdomen. The other four pairs include the chelae, or pincers, and three pairs of walking legs. According to Michael Kluce from the University of Michigan’s Museum of Zoology, the right claw is often larger than the left, making most reds naturally right-chelae dominant. Their walking legs, which can hang up to three feet from their bodies, offer most of the crab meat valuable to humans.
A red king crab’s hidden fifth pair of legs are used in mating and rearing of immature crabs. Females are thought to use these mini-legs to clean fertilized eggs, which remain in their abdomen for 11 months after fertilization. Males, on the other hand, use their tiny fifth leg pair to grab a female before mating. Reds mate once a year, in the springtime, when they migrate to shallower waters. Mating can occur after a female release her clutch of eggs from the previous year, emitting chemicals to attract males. A male then latches onto a female with his fifth pair of legs.