Novel Solution to Invasive Crabs: Turn Them Into Whiskey

New Hampshire distillery makes new flavor out of troublesome green crabs
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 28, 2022 8:24 AM CDT
Novel Solution to Invasive Crabs: Turn Them Into Whiskey
This photo provided by House of Tamworth Distillery shows a bottle of Crab Trapper, a whiskey made with green crabs.   (Madeline Heenan/Quaker City Mercantile photo via AP)

Care for a hint of crab in your whiskey? A New Hampshire distillery has come up with its newest concoction called “Crab Trapper"—whiskey flavored with invasive green crabs, per the AP. Tamworth Distilling's Matt Power said the company heard about the problems caused by the green crabs and decided to get pro-active. The crabs, which came over on ships from Europe in the mid-1800s and landed on Cape Cod, have taken the region by storm. These saucer-size crustaceans with a murky green color have decimated the area's marine ecosystem, outcompeting native species for food and shelter.

At the distillery, the crabs are boiled to produce what Power called “a stout crab broth.” The broth is fortified with alcohol, then goes through a distillation process that separates out the funky smells of the crab from the more inviting aromas. The goal, Power says, is to get rid of the smells he compared to tidal flats, leaving behind those that might be reminiscent of “the sea breeze on a warm day down by the coast.” Then, the distillery adds a corn and spice mixture that includes coriander, cinnamon, bay leaf, and mustard seed. That mixture is added to a cask of the distillery's bourbon that has been aged for several years. One 25-gallon batch uses about 1,000 crabs, per Insider.

The University of New Hampshire Extension's Gabriela Bradt says the crabs are “so numerous that they have really impacted shellfish habitats and fisheries because they are also voracious predators." For the past six years, the NH Green Crab Project has been working to come up with uses for the crabs, such as using them for bait, compost, and adding them to the menu of local seafood restaurants. Some places, including Ipswich, Massachusetts, have a bounty program that pays fishermen to remove the crabs from the estuaries. But Bradt acknowledged that until those efforts reach a much larger scale, they are unlikely to have a significant impact. (Read more whiskey stories.)

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