Lobsters should always be cooked alive for two very important reasons.
Once a lobster (or any other crustacean) dies , the enzymes within their bodies instantly begin to break down the muscle, turning its firm flesh very mushy.
As well, all deceased shellfish are susceptible to bacterial contamination so by not knowing how long it has been sitting around can greatly increase your chances of getting food poisoning.
Most supermarkets that sell live lobsters should also be able to cook them for you. However if you want to try cooking them yourself, here’s what you need to know.
What is the best way to cook lobster?
Roasting on the BBQ is tasty however there are some challenges – the slower heat transfer causes the proteins in the meat to more likely adhere to the shell, and its uneven heating can make it easy to overcook the lobster.
Steaming (like what’s done at grocery stores for their customers) can also be done if you have all the equipment -large enough pots to hold the water and steamer racks, but the biggest downside is you’ll end up with less seasoned meat.
By far, the traditional method of boiling is the way to go. Lobster immersed in a pot of boiling salted water, provides a rapid heat transfer so the meat releases easily from the shell once cooked. As well, the delicate texture and flavor of the lobster shine through.
The most humane way to boil a live lobster
If you put a live lobster into a pot of boiling water, it can thrash and twitch for up to 2 minutes before it is rendered motionless. The best and most humane way we’ve found is to first freeze the lobster for 30 minutes, inducing a coma-like state.
This makes the lobsters easier to maneuver into the pot, safer for you (no boiling water splashing up), and is a bit easier on your conscience when you don’t see the lobster thrashing about as it’s being boiled alive.
- 8 cups of water for each 1lb of lobster
- Sea salt 4 Tbsp/8 cups
- Place lobsters in a large bowl and freeze for 30 minutes.
- In a large stock pot, add 8 cups of water per pound of lobster, and mix in 4 Tbsp of sea salt for every 8 cups of water. Bring to a rolling boil.
- Place the chilled lobsters headfirst into the rapidly boiling water, one at a time. Cover and return the water to a boil. Once the water is at a rolling boil again, start timing (see cooking times).
- Cook until the thickest part of their tail reaches 175°F using an instant thermometer
- Place lobsters on a rimmed baking sheet and set aside until cool enough to handle.
1lb - 12-15min, 1.5lb - 15-20min, 2-3lb - 20-25 min, 3.5-5lb - 25-30min
To avoid overcooking, only similarly-sized lobsters should be cooked together. If there are various sizes in the pot, base the cooking time on the largest lobster to ensure that it is cooked.
Frequently asked questions about handling fresh lobster:
How do I choose the freshest live lobster?
The best quality live lobster should always respond when picked up or handled. Typical responses of strong and healthy lobsters include lifting of their claws, moving legs and a tail that is tightly curled, flicks or is extended out and arched upwards. Lobsters exhibiting minimal movement or limp limbs and tail should not be purchased.
How do I handle live lobster?
Live lobster should always be handled with care. Pick the lobster up by its body, being sure to avoid contact with the claws. If you put force on the claws, the lobster may release them as an escape response. Also, a lobster can close their crusher claws with a force ranging from 27 to 58 pounds. Elastic bands are usually kept on the claws to prevent accidents.
How do I store live lobster?
Lobster should always be kept wet and cold in your refrigerator until cooking time. Do not submerge lobster in fresh water or ice; simply place them in a large open container in your refrigerator and cover them with a damp cloth/paper towel.
How many days can I keep live lobster?
If lobster is kept cool and damp in the refrigerator and you have followed proper storage instructions, they can typically be kept for a maximum of two days (including transit time).
How long can I keep cooked lobster?
Cooked lobster in the shell can be kept for up to two days in your refrigerator in a covered container. Cooked lobster meat shucked from the shell can be refrigerated for two to three days in a covered container.
Can live lobster be frozen?
Live lobster should not be frozen; however, cooked and shucked meat and cooked, shell-on lobster can be properly frozen quite easily. Cooked lobster meat (shucked or shell-on) can be frozen while submerged in a prepared brine solution in a container or freezer bag (¼ cup salt with 1 liter of fresh water).
How do I defrost frozen lobster?
Frozen lobster can be defrosted in your refrigerator for 15-18 hours (recommended method) or by placing it in a sealed plastic bag under cold running water for quick defrost.
Lobster info referenced from: https://www.clearwater.ca/