Storing & Preparing a Lobster
Until cooked, lobsters can be kept alive in a cold place, refrigerator or on ice up to 36 hours after we ship them. Do not place live lobsters in fresh water, as they will die immediately. On the Atlantic coast lobsters are served basically two ways, hot from the pot or cold chilled. Try both ways to determine your personal preference.
Make sure you have a large deep container. It makes the job much easier. For purposes of comparison and adjustment, the pot used for our “boiled lobster recipe” was 12 inches in diameter, 8 inches high and made of aluminum.
~ Fill pot 4 inches deep (1/2 full) with 2 gallons of water.
~ Add two cups of table salt (1 per gallon)
~ Bring to a rolling boil. Put lobsters into boiling water and immediately cover pot. Do not overload. Water should just cover lobsters.
~ When water returns to a boil, start timing. After 3-4 mins the pot should be watched so it won’t overflow.
Lobsters should be cooked as follows:
~ Under 1 lb – 12 to 15 mins.
~ 1-2 lbs. – 15 to 17mins.
~ 2-3 lbs. – 17 to 20 mins.
~ 3-5 lbs. – 20 to 30 mins.
Lobsters that are overcooked will be tougher than the normal tender texture attained if you time the boiling cycle properly. Lobsters are cooked when meat is opaque. When finished pour into sink and rise or immerse lobsters in cold water so the shell cools. This will stop further cooking. Serve hot or cooled with a side dish of melted salted butter. Bon appetite!!
If you wish to pre-heat your lobster, place lobster in enough boiling water to cover, add 1/2 cup of salt for each gallon of water. Let boil for a few minutes until hot throughout.
The Atlantic Lobster (Homarus Americanus) is a maritime delicacy, which is finding it’s way to discriminating tables around the world. It is a traditional catch along the Atlantic coast from Labrador to North Carolina and is virtually non-existent outside this region. It is most abundant in Maine, Southern Nova Scotia and the Southern Gulf of St. Laurence. Homarus Americanus is a close cousin to the European lobster (Homarus Gamarus) but neither should be confused with the rock lobster which is abound in warmer central and Southern hemisphere waters. The latter species supplies much of the world’s “lobster tail” market, however, the taste and texture of the meat varies considerably from that of the Atlantic lobster.
10-16 oz. – Canner
1 lb. – Chix
1.25 lb. – Quarters
1.5 lb. – Halves
1.75 – 2.5 lbs. – Selects
Over 2.5 lbs. to approx. 4 lbs. – Sm. Jumbos
5 lbs. and up – Lg. Jumbos
In Canada lobster-fishing seasons are strictly controlled by fisheries regulations. In all there are 16 districts, which remain open for periods ranging from 2-6 months. Seasons are predetermined based on weather conditions, market considerations, extent of fishing effort and the quality of the product. Currently over two thirds of our lobster are landed in May, June and December when they are hard shelled, fully meated and strong enough to withstand storage and shipment. Market demands normally peak during the summer months due to tourist activity and at Christmas time due to increased demand in Europe for this traditional festive food. The United States currently has no specific seasons, however their catch traditionally is heaviest during the period from August to November.
Feeding & Movement
During the daytime, particularly in the shallow water, lobsters spend much of their time hidden in burrows or crevices among the rocks. They search for food most actively at night, walking nimbly on the tips of their legs with their long sensitive antennae out in front. The lobster is a predator and actively seeks out such delectable as clams, mussels, crabs, sea urchins etc., using its crusher claw to crack the shells to expose the edible flesh. In captivity or during long periods of storage lobsters are cannibalistic.
The lobster swims flexing its powerful tail and propells itself backwards. Most of its life however is spent in seclusion on the ocean floor. Lobster movement is usually a factor of water temperature with activity increasing in warmer weather.
Growth & Age
When a lobster out grows it’s hard, inelastic shell it casts it off. This process is known as molting or shedding, usually occurs during summer. The newly molted lobster emerges with a brand new, but extremely soft shell. Within a few hours the lobster absorbs seawater and swells to it’s new size. It takes several months for the lobster to harden up the new shell and begin to fill out its new form. Often during months of September and October the only fresh caught lobsters available are in a recently molted condition. Anyone wishing to consume lobster during this period must be prepared to accept a soft shelled and short meated product. One must remember, however, that while visually deceptive, a soft shelled lobster is sold by the pound and as such is no less a bargain that it’s hard shelled brother. Molting has no effect on the quality of the meat.
In their first growing season lobster molt five to seven times, but less often each successive year. Lobster weighing half a pound usually molt once a year and grow 15% in length and up to 50% in weight. Older lobsters molt less frequently and very large lobsters often fail to molt for several years.
Growth rates vary from year to year and place to place and age is difficult to estimate. Generally lobster in the range of one half to one pound can be considered to be five to seven years old. Depending on location, lobster mature at anywhere from one half to two pounds. A mature female half pound lobster will lay about 3000 eggs, while a three pound lobster will lay about 7000 eggs. Eggs are carried on the underside of the tail until they hatch about a year later. The hatching season starts about mid-june and continues until the end of September.