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Questions and Information about Maine Lobster


Read below to read answers to many questions about lobsters, and find more lobster information than you would expect in one source.



Q: What is the biggest lobster ever caught in Maine? A colossal, 27lb lobster has been caught off the Maine coast - but thanks to a kind-hearted fisherman, it won't be heading for the pot.

A: 27 Lbs: Robert Malone, from Cushing, caught the crustacean in his shrimp nets last Friday. He turned the lobster - the size of an average three-year-old - over to the aquarium at Boothbay Harbor.

The lobster, dubbed Rocky after it was found in the Rockland coastal area, is 40 inches long and weighs in at 27lb - four pounds heavier that the aquarium's largest specimen.

Read more here...

Q: Great site! But I have to confess that I am one of those lobster fans who feels a bit squeamish about throwing the dears in a pot of boiling water while they are alive. I have heard that one way to cook them is to put them in the pot with cold water and gradually heat the water until they "fall asleep" so that they are not conscious when the water boils. Sounds a little far fetched, but does it work? Alternately that you can kill it by piercing the brain just before putting in the boiling water. While I like lobster, I have never cooked one myself for the above reason. A friend of mine cooked five or six lobsters one time and had a terrible experience with them banging of the lid trying to get out! I know that is not the kind of story you like to hear, but it happened and it has certainly put me off of cooking them at home. Don't expect you to post this, but I would love a response since I am seriously dieting and would like to include more lobster in my regimen. Thanks. Kathy Taos, NM .

A: If a Lobster feels pain and you cook it starting with cold water, they will be in pain for 15 / 20 min. till the water is hot enough to kill them. Yes you can kill it by piercing the brain. The banging of the lid is just nerves moving. They are already dead within seconds of being drooped in the boiling water.

Q: While visiting an aquarium in Maine, I was told that a lobster will grow an extra "smeller" when they lose an eye. Is this true?

A: If a lobster loses a claw or an eye, it is able to grow another, although the new one is usually smaller in size.

Q: How long do you have to cook a lobster that is more than 2 pounds?

A: When boiling lobster an average cooking time per pound is 10 minutes, for larger lobster of 3-4-5-etc. pounds, cook twenty minutes for the first two pounds, then 5 minutes more for each additional pound. A 5 pound lobster when added to boiling water and then having the water returned to the boil would take 35 minutes of simmering. You may prefer less time if you let the lobster cool in the hot liquid.

Q: Is there a difference in taste between hard and soft shell lobsters?

A: Even though there is less meat in soft-shells than in hard-shells, many people prefer the taste of the soft-shells. They are considered sweeter and more tender than the hard-shells.

Q: I heard somewhere in the past that the female lobster is better tasting. Is there any difference in the taste of a male or female lobster?

A: The main differences in male and female lobsters are: Males generally tend to grow larger claws, have narrower tails, and have spikes on the under side of their tails. Females have a broader tail and have feathery hairs on their 'swimmerets', the small flippers on the underside of the tail. These are used to hold eggs. But whether one tastes better than the other? Its really a matter of opinion. Some folks say that the female lobster 'roe' is what might make it taste better. But the general consensus is nah...

Q: Why is lobster not kosher?

A: Fish that have scales also have fins, so kosher fish are identified by their scales. Crustaceans (such as lobster) and other shellfish (such as clams) are not kosher because they lack scales.

Q: Could you tell me how many cups of actual "meat" is in a one pound lobster? Some recipes call for cups of lobster which leaves the cook to guess about how many lobsters to purchase.

A: A 1 1/2 pound lobster yields approximately 1 1/3 cups of meat. A 1 pound lobster yields approximately 2/3 cup.

Q: What color does a blue lobster become when it is cooked?

A: Lobsters turn red when they're cooked regardless of their original color. But there may be subtle differences. Boil a blue lobster, and you get a pinkish color. It's not as intense.

Q: What is the weight of the largest lobster ever caught in the world?

A: The Massachusetts Lobstermen's association claimed a record when they caught “Big George” in 1974 off Cape Cod. The lobster weighed 37.4 pounds with a total length of 2.1 feet.

Q: What is the red stuff inside a lobster? Is it edible?

A: The red stuff that you sometimes see inside a lobster are immature, unfertilized eggs. Although red after cooking, before they are cooked, they are black in color. The eggs are also called spawn, roe or coral. They are OK to eat and like caviar are considered a delicacy by many people. A fertile adult female lobster produce about 10,000 eggs, all about the size of a pin head. Only 1% of those eggs will make it into adulthood.

Q: Are Lobsters part of the insect family?

A: Close! This group is known as the arthropods. Insects, spiders (arachnids), centipedes/millipedes, and shrimp, lobster, and crabs (crustaceans) are all arthropods.

Q: If a lobster breathers by taking water in through its' legs and out of its' head, how does a lobster breathe (stay alive) when it is not in water?

A: Out of water, lobsters need moisture to survive for a short period of time. Live lobsters can survive for about 12 to 18 hours in a refrigerator, and about 20 hours when packed in ice. Keep the lobster covered with a layer of seaweed or a damp cloth to provide moisture. They won't survive in fresh water or enclosed in a plastic bag or other sealed container.

Q: We recently heard a lot of information on television about the positive health affect of consuming Salmon and Mackerel. That is, they have less cholesterol and they have a higher percentage of good cholesterol HDL versus LDL. Does Lobsters contain a higher percentage of HDL cholesterol versus LDL? Does Lobsters contain more cholesterol in general than fish like Salmon?

A: Contrary to most beliefs, lobsters are loaded with the 'good' cholesterol (HDL). Actually, shellfish, such as lobster and king crab, contain no more cholesterol, and sometimes less, than the skinless white meat of chicken, and a bit less than lean beef (around 60 milligrams per three ounce serving). Shellfish is actually one of the lowest fat fish, especially lobster, which contains less than a gram of fat in three ounces.

Q: What do lobsters do with their shells when they molt?

A: After molting, lobsters will eat voraciously, often devouring their own recently vacated shells. This replenishment of lost calcium hastens the hardening of the new shell.

Q: What is the frequency of blue lobsters? Are there any photos?

A: The blue lobster is very, very rare. Marine scientists believe a genetic condition causes the blue pigmentation, seen in only about one in 2,000,000 lobsters. To see photos, check these out: 1 - 2 - 3.

Q: What part of the lobster is the tomalley (the green stuff), and what is the silky black gooey fingerlength gland/tract running lengthwise between the tail and body?

A: The tomalley is fat or 'liver' of lobster, and is eaten as a delicacy. The silky black gooey fingerlength tract running lengthwise between the tail and body is the lobsters intestine. To see a more indepth view, check out this photo link.

Q: How many years have lobsters been on earth? Aren't they one of the few unchanged organisms going back over 500 million years ago, coming about in Palezoic times?

A: They've been around a long long time. Two well-preserved fossils half a millimeter (one-fiftieth of an inch) long of crustaceans-ancient relatives to crabs, shrimp, and lobsters-found in 511 million-year-old limestone deposits in Shropshire, England, lend credence to the theory that a long evolutionary fuse preceded the Cambrian explosion.

Q: How does a lobster breathe?

A: It takes in water through its legs, lets it out through its head.

Q: When I buy a cooked whole lobster how long can I store it before it spoils?

A: Depends on how you will store it... # Freezing??... quite a while...To freeze a cooked lobster in the shell, place lobster on its back to prevent juice loss and store in an airtight freezer bag or container Keep frozen at OF (-18C) for up to two months. To freeze cooked, shelled lobster meal, cover with a brine solution 2tsp.(10 ml) salt to each 1 cup (250 ml) water, leaving a 1/2 inch (1.2 cm) headspace. Seal tightly and freeze immediately. To thaw, allow 15-18 hours in the refrigerator, or microwave on DEFROST for 10-14 min per pound(500g). The safest way to thaw frozen canned lobster meat is to place the unopened can in cold water in the refrigerator. Allow 2 hours per pound (500 g) for thawing. Once thawed, open immediately. DO NOT THAW in warm water or at room temperature. # In The Fridg??... a day or two...If you have a small quantity of lobsters to cook and eat within a day or two, all that is required is a refrigerator to keep the crustaceans cold and a way to keep them damp. Keep water-soaked packaging material or newspaper spread on the bottom. Make sure that you do all of this quickly so that the lobsters do not warm up too much. # On The Kitchen Counter???... Don't!!!!!!!!

Q: When I buy a lobster, I want to get a lobster with a lot of meat inside of it. Sometimes, when I buy a two pounds lobster it is full of meat, while other times I could buy a two pound lobster and it seems to be all shell. How can I tell when I am paying for meat and not just the shell?

A: Measure the length of carapace (eye socket to the start of the tail) and this determines the weight of lobsters. In 2 same weighted lobsters, the smaller the carapace, the better off you are. This makes more room for meat in the tail.

Q: Do Lobsters Mate for life?

A: A female lobster can mate only just after she sheds her shell. Lobster society has evolved a complex, touching courtship ritual that protects the female when she is most vulnerable. When she is ready to molt, the female lobster approaches a male's den and wafts a sex "perfume" called a pheromone in his direction. Unlike a female moth, whose sex pheromone may attract dozens of random suitors, the female lobster does the choosing. She usually seeks out the largest male in the neighborhood and stands outside his den, releasing her scent in a stream of urine from openings just below her antennae. He responds by fanning the water with his swimmerets, permeating his apartment with her perfume. He emerges from his den with his claws raised aggressively. She responds with a brief boxing match or by turning away. Either attitude seems to work to curb the male's aggression. The female raises her claws and places them on his head to let him know she is ready to mate. They enter the den, and some time after, from a few hours to several days later, the female molts. At this point the male could mate with her or eat her, but he invariably does the noble thing. He gently turns her limp body over onto her back with his walking legs and his mouth parts, being careful not to tear her soft flesh. They mate "with a poignant gentleness that is almost human, " observes Dr. Atema. The male, who remains hard-shelled, inserts his first pair of swimmerets, which are rigid and grooved, and passes his sperm into a receptacle in the female's body. She stays in the safety of his den for about a week until her new shell hardens. By then the attraction has passed, and the couple part with hardly a backward glance.

Q: Is lobster edible raw? If not, why not?

A: Well, ya could eat raw lobster, but I wouldn't recommend it. Vibrio vulnificus infections can be transmitted to humans when improperly cooked or raw shellfish is consumed. Most people's immune systems are capable of fighting these infections. However, people with impaired immune systems can develop a severe, potentially fatal infection.

WAYS TO FIGHT VIBRIO VULNIFICUS:

Pasteurization - Vibrio can't stand heat. When temperatures are raised sufficiently, the bacteria are killed. The AmeriPure Process - While this is frequently referred to as pasteurization, it is not. Instead, the AmeriPure Process is a temperature treatment that employs both warm and ice-cold waters. AmeriPure holds three patents on its process. Smoked fish is especially susceptible, but other seafoods that have tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes include raw fish, cooked crabs, raw and cooked shrimp and raw lobster. It has also been found in dairy products, vegetables, beef and poultry. Cooking rapidly kills Listeria monocytogenes in seafood. Chill promptly after cooking and keep refrigerated until ready to use. Other possible negatives from eating raw lobster are: Hepatitis, gastroenteritis, Domoic Acid, Ciguatera, histamine poisoning, etc. Best bet, Cook it!!!!!!!

Q: How many body segments does a lobster have?

A: The segmented body of the lobster consists of a large cephalothorax (made up of 14 segments) and a moveable, muscular abdomen (composed of 7 segments).

Q: How can you put a lobster to sleep?

A: Lobsters sleep if placed on their backs. Try doing this for a few minutes. This puts them in light sleep mode (or beta state). But lobsters will fall into an even deeper sleep mode (theta state) if the temperature suddenly changes. This is because lobsters have very small brains and primitive central nervous systems an are highly affected by these sudden temperature changes.

Q: What is a "canner" lobster?

A: Canners are smaller lobsters caught only in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada. At one time, all of these lobsters went into a cannery. Since the water is warmer in this area, lobsters mature at a smaller size. It is legal to catch small lobsters only in this region.

Q: Do you have any idea how many Lobsters were taken in last year?

A: The records that we have show that 52 Million Lobsters were harvested.

Q: Can you let us know what the male and female lobster are known as?

A: As far as we know, a male lobster is called a lobster and a female is called a lobster. And thats that!

Q: Do Lobsters have teeth and if so where can they be found?

A: A lobster does not chew its food orally, instead it swallows its meal whole and allows its stomach do to the chewing, using the Gastric, Calcified, Lateral, and Medial teeth.

Q: What is a lobster without claws called?

A: Atlantic marine lobsters without claws are called crayfish. Also, in the Pacific, California Spiny Lobsters lack the large claws of the Atlantic lobster.

Q: What is a one-clawed lobster called?

A: While a two-clawed lobster is called a Lobster, a one-clawed lobster is called a Cull.

Q: I'm picking up cooked lobsters at 5pm, but don't want to eat them 'til 6pm. How do I keep them warm? Can they be reheated?

A: You may find that they are still hot an hour after cooking, but if you need to reheat them, steaming them for 2 or 3 minutes before serving should do just fine.

Q: Why do lobsters turn red when you cook them?

A: A live lobster is greenish-brown because of many different color pigment chromatophores. When it is cooked, all the pigments are masked except for astaxanthin, which is the background red pigment.

Q: What is the best way of heating lobster that has been cooked and frozen in its shell?

A: We suggest thawing for 24 hours in the refrigerator, then steaming for 2-3 minutes or broiling for about 2 minutes at 450 degrees.

Q: What are the Nutrition Facts for a serving of Maine Lobster meat (calories, etc.)? How much is one serving?

A: Here's the nutrition information for a 100gm serving of Maine Lobster: Calories, 98; Protein, 20.5mg; Cholesterol, 72mg; Saturated Fat, 0.1g; Total Fat, 0.6g, according to The Maine Lobster Promotion Council.

Q: I would like to go to Maine for lobster. When is it the best time to go and where is the best place in Maine for lobster?

A: There really is no best time to come to Maine for Lobster. (To be honest, I'm partial to Maine summers, but that's just me.) And there's Lobster to be found most everywhere here, but our favorite places to find lobster are listed on our Where to Find Lobster page.

Q: After eating lobster, we often get the runs. Not all the time, but a lot of the time. We're wondering if it's the lobster, the butter or what do you think could cause diarrhea?

A: Here's the best answer we could come up with. We're not claiming that it's definitive, and we welcome insight from surfers with more extensive knowledge about the digestive system than we possess.

Humans lack digestive enzymes to attack chitin, a complex polysaccharide in the exoskeleton of lobster and crayfish. During the

cooking process, a very small amount of chitin "sweats" from the shell. This is not enough to have much effect on most people, but apparently, some people are affected.

Q: What's the best way to store a cooked lobster, shelled or unshelled?

A: It is best to store the meat in the shell to keep it from drying out.

Q: Can a fresh Lobster be frozen and cooked at a later date?

A: Yes, and Susan Reynolds, M.S., of The University of Georgia's Cooperative Extension Service has this advice: "For best quality, lobster should be frozen uncooked. Freeze the lobster whole, or clean it and freeze just the shell portions that contain the edible meat... Freeze lobster in the shell, to help keep the meat from drying out. Simply wrap the whole lobster or lobster portions in moisture-vapor resistant wrapping and freeze. Lobster can be cooked and then frozen, but the quality will not be as good."

Q: Can a cooked Lobster be frozen and used later?

A: "Lobster can be cooked and then frozen, but the quality will not be as good."

Q: How do you tell a female Maine Lobster from a male?

A: The swimmerets, the small feathery appendages on the underside of the tail, will provide the answer. The first pair of swimmerets closest to the body are hard and bony on a male, and soft and feathery like the rest of the swimmerets, on a female. Only the female has a small rectangular shield between her second pair of walking legs. This is the sperm receptacle where she stores the sperm after mating until she lays her eggs. Also, a female also has a wider tail than a comparably-sized male. She needs the breadth for carrying all those eggs.

Q: Are Maine Lobsters really right or left handed?

A: The larger of the 2 claws on a Maine Lobster is called the "crusher claw," the smaller is called the "tearing claw." In a large majority of Maine Lobsters, the larger claw is the right claw, so I suppose you could say that most Maine Lobsters are right handed.

Q: Must you clean lobster before you steam it? If so, how?

A: No. Unless there's something visibly unusual on your lobster (which you should rinse or pick off), it's not necessary to clean it before cooking.

Q: How do I find or prepare the "drawn butter" that you get in the restaurants?

A: (Whoops! Here is my original answer, followed by a correction sent to me by a thoughtful visitor. I guess I don't know it all...) At first, I thought this might be a trick question. I tried to find out why they call it "drawn" butter in the first place, but nobody seems to know. But "drawn" butter is nothing more than "melted" butter. My personal method is 30 seconds in the microwave. Obviously, you can melt it on the stove top as well. Really, there's nothing more to it than that.

The correction: Hi- Was looking at the site and noticed your answer to the "How do I make Drawn butter?" question. Your answer is mostly correct, but drawn butter is really melted butter with the milk solids removed (milk solid is the white stuff that floats around in the melted butted). To remove the milk solids, melt the butter and let it stand for about a minute to allow the milk solids to settle on the bottom. Then "draw off" the clear butter (hence the name) using a baster or simply a spoon. It doesn't taste much different than plain old melted butter, but some people think it looks nicer on the presentation. (Thanks, Matt!)

Q: Is there a particular time of year when lobster is in season, or when the prices for lobster are lower than at other times of the year?

A: With a few small exceptions (small areas), there is not a "lobster fishing season" in Maine, therefore Maine Lobsters are readily available year round. There are, however, times when hard-shell lobsters are in short supply, and there is certainly a "season" when Maine Lobster prices are higher.

While lobsters don't shed their shells according to a set schedule, they do have a tendency to shed in the beginning of July, and again around the end of December. Therefore, around the 4th of July, and again around Christmas, it may be a bit more difficult to find hard-shell lobster if that is your preference.

The price of lobster, like most prices, is ruled by supply and demand. Most of Maine's winter tourist attractions are in inland parts of the state, such as skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling. On the coast, where the lobsters come from, the tourist season starts Memorial Day weekend, and you can expect a rapid increase in prices. The season ends with Labor Day weekend, and that's when the prices drop again.

Q: When you pick up live lobsters from the market, what is the best method of keeping them alive until cooking time. Should they be placed in a bucket of salted water?

A: Your "bucket of salted water" idea isn't a bad one. Keeping them cold also helps. If you put the bag the Maine Lobsters were placed in at the store in the refrigerator overnight, they'll be fine to cook the next day. However, all the experts we talked to said that the best strategy is to avoid the problem by not buying your Maine Lobsters ahead of time; try to buy them and cook them the same day. Buying them the day before you intend to cook them is fine, but if your lobster dinner is a week away, leave it to the store to keep them alive for you.

Q: Some recipes (including one on MELobster.Com's recipes page) call for raw Lobster. How do you kill the Lobster humanely with out cooking it?

A: We had to dig deep for this one, but finally, an excellent chef from the Portland area gave us the answer. Right above and behind the Lobster's eyes is a soft spot in the shell. If you pierce this soft spot with a knife (or awl or other sharp object) the Lobster dies instantly. (This is where the Lobster's brain is located.) We hope that helps.

Q: If my Maine Lobster dies on the way home from the supermarket, is it ok to cook? If not, why?

A: The answer to your question is probably "yes," unless of course, the supermarket is in Winslow, Me., and your home is in Los Angeles! Lobster meat does not take long to spoil after the lobster dies. As long as there isn't an unusual odor, cooking and eating the lobster is probably ok. However, there are a couple of things to watch for to be certain. If the Lobster is safe, the tail will be curled tightly after cooking, and the meat inside will be firm. If either of these conditions are not present, don't take the risk!

Q: How do you remove the claw binders before placing the Lobster in boiling water without risking getting pinched?

A: Our strong advice about removing the claw binders before cooking is: Don't do it. The cooking time for lobsters is short enough that the binder won't burn or melt. The binders are easily removed after cooking.

Q: What does a Maine Lobster eat?

A: Mostly mussels, clams, urchins, and flounder. Sometimes, larger lobsters include smaller lobsters in their diet.

Q: How old can a Lobster live to be?

A: Based on the descriptions of large Lobsters seen by fishermen during Colonial times, Lobsters of that period sometimes lived to be (approximately) 150 years old. Not surprisingly, when the Lobster industry began during the 1800's, the life expectancy of Lobsters decreased. The scientific community also waited until the 1800's before they took an interest in Lobsters. Therefore, the oldest Lobster on record lived to be 100 years old, and weighed about 43 pounds.

Q: Maine Lobsters are red when they're cooked; what color are they in the ocean?

A: The shade varies a little from Lobster to Lobster, but they are a dark blue-green when alive in the ocean.

Q: What color is a Maine Lobster's blood?

A: When Maine Lobsters are alive, their blood is colorless. When it is exposed to the air, however, it turns red. In the process of cooking, the blood turns white and "sweats" out of the meat. That's what that white substance is all along the inside of the shell when you crack them open.

Q: Why do Maine Lobster's have one claw larger than the other?

A: This occurs naturally in Maine Lobsters. The larger of the two claws is called the "crusher claw," the smaller is called the "tearing claw." The difference in size in not great, but certainly noticeable. Additionally, if a Lobster loses a claw (or an eye), they have the ability to grow a new one. The new claw is usually significantly smaller.

Q: Why do some Maine Lobsters have "hard" shells, while others have "soft" shells?

A: The only way Maine Lobsters can grow is by shedding their shells and growing a new larger shell. When the shells are new, they are soft, which allows them to stretch to the new size. In the first year of a Maine Lobster's life, this process occurs eight times; five times in the second year; three times in the third year. After that, male Lobsters shed their shell twice a year, while females shed only once a year.

Q: How fast does a Maine Lobster grow?

A: On average, it takes a Maine Lobster about six years to grow to weigh one pound.

Q: How large do Maine Lobsters grow?

A: Usually, the largest Lobsters caught by Lobstermen weigh about 15 pounds, because that's the largest size that will fit into their traps. The largest Maine Lobster ever caught was 3' 6" long and weighed a little over 40 pounds. Divers who work off the coast of Maine have observed Lobsters that they estimate to weigh about 200 pounds! Not surprisingly, these divers did not feel tempted to wrestle with one of these Megalobsters to bring one to the surface to confirm their sightings.

Q: Is Maine Lobster a good, healthy, nutritious food?

A: Absolutely! According to the USDA, Maine Lobster is lower in saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories than white chicken meat. Additionally, Maine Lobsters have more valuable mineral salts and more iodine content than any other food regardless of source.

Q: A friend told me that lobsters and cockroaches have the same enzymes. Is there any truth to this statement?

A: The cockroach is an insect and a lobster is a decapod crustacean. BUT, there is a something known as the "Lobster Cockroach", Nauphoaeta cinerea (Olivier) (Blaberidae). This insect has world-wide distribution in tropical areas, where it is known as a domiciliary species. It was first recorded in the southern United States in 1952, and also occurs in Hawaii, where it is known to kill and eat the Pacific beetle cockroach, Diploptera punctata (Eschscholtz) (Illingworth, 1942). The lobster cockroach, so named because of the lobsterlike design on its pronotum, is ashy gray in color and 2.5 to 3 cm long. The wings do not cover the abdomen, although they are slightly longer in the male than in the female.

Beyond classification "Arthropod (Phylum)", which should reflect the lobster and cockroach evolutionary relationship, the term 'roaches of the sea' reflects the behavior of lobsters as omnivorous scavengers. Cockroaches will eat almost anything organic and so will lobsters. They clean up the dead and dying plants and animals in their environment.


Questions about Lobster