Already-picked, fresh crabmeat (sold in cans or plastic tubs) is a convenient option when you don't have the time or inclination to cook and pick whole crabs. The crabmeat sold on the east coast usually comes from blue crabs, on the west coast from Dungeness crabs.
Choose fresh crabmeat over pasteurized whenever it's available; it tastes closer to freshly picked crab.
You’re likely to find several kinds of crabmeat at your market, each labeled to indicate what part of the crab the meat comes from:
Colossal or Jumbo Lump crab consists of the two big muscles that help power the crab’s back (swimming) legs. These luxuriously large lumps come at a premium price, so use them in recipes where you’ll showcase them whole.
Special crab comes from other areas of the crab’s body and consists of smaller pieces of meat. It’s just as flavorful as the Colossal or Jumbo Lump and is the best, least-expensive choice for recipes that don’t require large pieces of crab.
Backfin is a mixture of Special and (sometimes broken) Jumbo Lump pieces.
Claw meat, which can be from any of the legs (not just the claws), is darker than the body meat. It’s also more robust in flavor, making it a good match for spicy or other strongly flavored recipes.