Lobster Selection and Storage

Dead or Alive? Which Lobster Should You Buy?

Lobster in aquarium looking at cooked lobster
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Lobster Selection

When purchasing a live lobster to cook at home, be certain it is indeed alive and lively. Although you may be able to choose a live lobster from a tank, there is no way of knowing how fresh it is unless you ask, and even then, be wary. Lobsters can be held in tanks for two to three weeks, growing weaker and less desirable within the cramped living space.

When choosing a lobster, pick it up by its sides. The tail should immediately curl and tuck up under its body. Tugging on the tail should produce the same reaction. The pincers should be restrained with an elastic band as the lobster is a cannibal and will eat its own kind.

Fresh lobster should always be live or frozen. No ifs, ands or buts about it. Once the lobster dies, the potent enzymes in the digestive tract quickly begin decomposing the meat. Absolute freshness is a must. Best prices on fresh lobster will be in spring and summer, although they are available year-round in most markets.

When buying a whole cooked lobster, look for bright shiny eyes, firm flesh, a pleasant aroma and curled tail (indicates it was alive when cooked). Lobster is also available frozen and canned. Canned lobster comes in chunks, bits, and a spread.

Lobster Storage

Lobsters can live for three to five days in a tank of salt water, but most home cooks do not have this option.

After buying a live lobster, be sure to get it in the refrigerator covered with a damp cloth as soon as possible and cook within 12 to 18 hours. Do not let it sit out at room temperature for more than half an hour and never put a live lobster in freshwater for storage purposes.

Cooked lobster should be refrigerated and consumed within two days.

Whole cooked lobster may be easily frozen. Place it in a plastic bag, squeeze out as much of the air as possible and seal tightly.

However, it is preferable to freeze cooked lobster outside the shell in a brine bath. Prepare a brine made of 1 tablespoon of salt to 1 cup of water. Remove the meat from the shell and place in a container or sealable bag with brine to cover and freeze.

Frozen lobster should be eaten within one month.