Handling & Storage of Lobster Before Cooking

Lobsters are widely known as the King of the crustaceans and they should be treated accordingly. To successfully purchase or catch a lobster and maintain of the highest quality until it hits the dinner table, we must treat it with respect. As lobsters tend to be more expensive than other crustaceans it’s not good economics to be trashing a lobster due to poor care, so let’s have a look at the best ways to handle and store our lobster.

Lobsters breathe through their gills and these must be kept moist in order for them to stay alive. You really want to keep your fresh live lobster out of the sunlight or heat in general and maintain moisture around them.

Transport lobsters in a container like a heavy duty cardboard box or foam cooler box but ideally without a lid. Keep some wet straw or damp newspaper on base of box and cover the lobster with a damp cloth as they will easily diffuse the moisture from the air and sucking the oxygen in through their gills.

Don’t immerse live lobsters in salt water or on ice that could melt and submerge them as they will suffocate in a very short period of time. When they are in saltwater tanks at seafood shops, realize that the tanks are filtered and the lobster is frequently getting fresh oxygen. If in a small container immersed in water their oxygen will be depleted quickly.

Make sure that the lobster’s claws have been tied with string or an elastic band to avoid being nipped. You need to handle lobsters gently and the less frequent, the better. Lobsters can easily be stressed and weakened by all the jostling, do remember that they really are at home when they are within the sea.

You can expect the lobster to stay in good condition out of the sea or its saltwater tank for one to two days. Sometimes in the wild they get caught out with low tides and get stuck on open rocks and have to wait for tidal shifts again so they have adjusted naturally, but they are still in a weakened state so treat them with care.

Lobsters come as either soft shelled or hard shelled versions; it just depends on where in the moulting stage that the lobster is at. If you’ve done your checks and squeezed the lobsters side concluding that you have a hard shelled version, well they are going to travel much better than a soft shelled version.

Once they are home, make some room in the refrigerator and store them covered with a damp cloth still allowing them to breathe. Stored this way, they will have a realistic shelf life of one to two days. You should consider cooking them quicker than this though for the ultimate in freshness.

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