Live crabs ship surprisingly well when handled properly and kept on ice, but there is something about the local crab season that can't be beat. For me, that means Dungeness crab pulled out of the Pacific Ocean. The season for Northern California starts in November and runs into summer, but those first crabs in November and December always taste the sweetest.
No matter what crabs you have on hand, use this guide to get them ready to eat.
Crabs kept on ice or in the fridge will be lethargic, but even they should respond to being picked up or moved around with a bit of leg movement at the very least. If you're choosing crabs from a tank or cooler, look for feisty specimens.