All about Lobster – The How To Guide

by zesty on April 1, 2009 · 19 comments

Happy Wednesday!  With Mother’s day not that far away and lobster season quickly approaching, I thought I would switch gears and present you some facts and tips about lobster.

PEI is famous for lobster that has bright red shells and juicy tender meat.  Lobster was once so common that they were used as fertilizer.  Lobster has now, as you know, become a gourmet delicacy.  Lobsters have ten legs, beady eyes, long antennae and a crust-like shell (like the picture below).  The bright red color characteristic of the lobster is only achieved by cooking.

Cooked Lobster paired with Clarified Butter

When alive, lobster are usually greenish-blue and speckled with dark spots. Once the meat is cooked it turns a delicate white tinged with red.

How to Buy Lobster

Lobster may be purchased live in the shell, or freshly cooked in the shell.  When purchased live, make sure the lobster has some movement and the tail should spring back when straightened out.  When handling live lobster, be careful of the claws as they can give you a serious pinch.  To protect yourself and to prevent the lobsters from harming each other in captivity, the claws are usually immobilized by placing an elastic band around them.


Lobster Traps (Photo provided by John Byer)

When buying cooked lobster, make sure that they are a bright “red-orange” colour, have a fresh aroma and that the tail section will spring back into a curled position after being straightened out.  For the most part, lobster is sold as either canners or markets, in accordance with the size.

Canners weigh between 1/2 and 3/4 pounds (250-375 g) while markets weigh over 3/4 pound (375 g).  Lobster is also sold in as cold pack (meat, frozen in cans) and hot pack (meat, heat processed in cans).

How to Store Lobster

Live lobster should never be placed in fresh water or on ice. Under ideal cool, damp storage conditions, lobster can live out of water for up to 36 hours.  They can be stored in your refrigerator for several hours by placing them in a large container covered with damp newspaper or seaweed. Cooked lobster in the shell can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days if placed in a tightly covered container. Shucked lobster meat can be refrigerated for 2-3 days. Live lobster should never be frozen but cooked lobster freezes well. For best results, the cooked meat should be removed from the shell and placed in plastic containers, glass bottles or freezer bags.

How to Prepare Lobster

Lobster should be cooked either in clean seawater or salted fresh water (add 2 Tbsp. salt to each quart/litre of fresh water). Fill a large pot with enough water to cover the lobster and bring it to a boil.  Grasp the lobster firmly by the back just behind the claws and plunge it head first into the boiling water. Cover, return the water to a boil and then lower the heat to a bubbly simmer.

Cooked Lobster Claw

Cook no more than two to four lobsters at a time, so there will be room for the water to cover and boil around them. Once completed they can be served hot or chilled quickly by being dipped in cold water.  It is important to cool the lobster quickly so that they do not remain in the temperature range in which bacteria multiply rapidly.

How to Serve Lobster

There are two methods for serving lobster in the shell. The shell can be broken apart using lobster crackers and the meat then picked out (and dipped in clarifed butter), or the lobster can be cut in half down the centre and the claws cut open with a large heavy knife.

Lobster Cracker

Lobster Pick

All of the lobster is edible except for the shell, the small stomach (hard sac) behind the head and the dark vein, running down the back of the tail. The green material in the body is the liver or tomally. This is excellent eating, as is the red material, or roe, which is found in the body of the female lobster (I tend to avoid this but everyone around me always eats it).

Some other fun stuff

  1. Jenna at eatliverun updated her sidebar and added her weekly training plan.
  2. Clumbsy Cookie is all about cookies – check this idea out!
  3. Matt creates a killer Homemade Chicken stock.
  4. Angela at OhSheGlows is all about the green monsters and has a page dedicated to it.

I hope you have a great Wednesday!  I will see you tomorrow.

Take care


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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Christie @ Fig & Cherry

Fantastic article! I adore lobster.


2 VeggieGirl

Brings me back a few years, hahahha ;-)


3 Mara @ What's For Dinner?

Did you also know that lobsters are “right clawed” or “left clawed”? That’s why a lot of them have one bigger claw and one smaller. Just a random imponderable for you :)


4 Natasha

Informative article.Thank you!


5 Jessie

Can you believe I had lobster for the first time last night, it was not even for a meal. It was an appetizer! It was really good too!


6 Jenny

Great post Cory, just stumbled and reviewed! I’m slowly figuring that darn site out! Have a great day.


7 coco

I love lobsters and the last time I prepared them it was a lot of work! well.. it was because I had no idea how to properly prepare it!
thanks for sharing all these great tips! :D


8 CaSaundra

Yay! I love seafood, but have yet to try preparing a lobster myself…maybe I will now! Thanks =)


9 Gera @ SweetsFoods

Cory a fantastic lobster guideline very informative and love lobster, so more reasons to enjoy the article :)




10 Sophia

wow! what a great post! I’ve learned a lot! I’ve always been very intimidated by lobster, so thanks for this great lesson!
btw, I love all your recipes! I tried the spicy basil chicken once and loved it, though I did switch a few things.


11 Kaneil, Balance is Best

Thanks for your comment earlier – and making me drool over the lobster!

Funny story – when I was little, our family was at a fine restaurant and I was checking out the lobster tank. I returned to the table feeling sad because I thought the lobsters were handicapped….because of the white rubberbands on their giant pinchers! :) Just a little tid bit for ya!

Kaneil, balanceisbest


12 Susan

LOVE the lobster how-to!! Maybe this summer I’ll get the guts to cook a live lobster! My family used to rent a cottage in Shediac, NB every summer and I have many memories of finding our lobster dinner crawling around the bathtub before meeting their stovetop fate :P


13 Hugging the Coast

Great advice on preparing lobster!

BTW, I recently saw of clip of actor/comedian Stephen Fry learning how to “hypnotise” live lobsters so they’re easier to managage…fascinating!


14 Olga

holy shite, now I really want one :)


15 Amy

:) Until i moved out West-Mother’s Day always involved a trip to Rustico to pick ours up for a HUGE dinner…yummy stuff!!


16 Heidi / Savory Tv

Great guide! I prefer to eat them the messy way ;)


17 Abby

How long should you leave the lobster in the boiling water?


18 Gabi

This encourages me to actually cook lobster! If I end in failure, can I cry on your shoulder???? :-)

Gabi @ mamaliga.


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