Monday, July 5, 2010

Lobster 101: How To Choose and Store Fresh Lobster

What do the folks order when they want something special? The Simpsons know! I was just watching a rerun of the Simpsons, in which Homer invited Marge for a romantic evening on the two. With the aid of a French-accented waiter, Homer chooses a lively lobster from the tank before being seated.

Everyone loves lobster. Boiled or broiled, whole or tails, the buttery taste of a tender lobster is a treat for the palate. (It’s also a great conversation starter, especially if you’ve read Trevor Corson’s recent bestseller, The Secret Life of Lobsters.)

Fortunately, you don’t need to go to a fancy French restaurant or summer on the coast of Maine to enjoy lobster at great prices. You can fresh lobster from online seafood markets

at great prices, with overnight delivery across the whole U.S. Usually prices are best during spring and summer.

First let’s look at how to choose a lobster. In future blogs we’ll explore how to cook it.


When you visit your seafood market or order online, keep these points in mind:

1. If you in Homer’s position, choose a lively lobster, one whose tail curls under when taken from the tank.

2. If you are ordering from an online seafood market, choose a market that is known for quality products. You may select either whole lobsters or lobster tails. All are delicious and interchangeable in most recipes.

3. Lobsters must be purchase live or frozen or cooked. (Once a lobster dies, its powerful enzymes begin the process of decomposition.)

4. As you consider sizes, lobster sizes begin at one pound (with shell). Some insist that the best lobsters are those that are between one and two pounds.


You’ve probably seen the careful packaging for shipping lobsters. That’s because these luxury shellfish do require cool, damp conditions. Food experts explain the simple rules for making sure that you keep your lobster safe

to eat.

1. LIVE LOBSTER: Buy fresh lobsters live the same day you plan to cook it. While seafood markets and restaurants can keep them in special saltwater tanks, don’t try it at home. Put your lobster in the refrigerator (the vegetable bin is a handy choice!), then cover with a damp cloth. While a lobster can last up to 36 hours this way, it’s generally better to cook it sooner. In no circumstances should a live lobster be left at room temperature for more than 30 minutes. You’ll know your lobster was fine if its tail curls up during cooking.

2. COOKED LOBSTER: Once cooked, lobster meat keeps for two days in the refrigerator. Remove from shell and store in airtight container. (Not that it actually lasts that long in my house!)

3. FREEZING LOBSTER: It keeps longer if frozen. Remove the lobster meat from the shell and put in a freezer bag, removing as much of the air as possible. Even better, add a brine of one tablespoon of salt dissolved in one cup of water, and add that to the freezer bag or container. For best results, use within one month.

It’s as simple as that to have the great taste of lobster right at home. So buy fresh lobster

today and enjoy! Coming soon: basic and new recipes for lobster and other shellfish.

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