Chapter 5: Tips for Handling and Storing Live Lobster

What to Do When Live Lobster Arrives

The first thing you should do after receiving your order from Main Lobster Now is to open the package and verify everything you ordered is there and the lobsters are alive. Be sure to handle the package and the lobsters gently. If anything is missing or wrong with the order, take pictures and contact our customer support.

How to Store Your Live Lobster in the Refrigerator

Live lobsters are highly perishable and must be handled promptly. It’s best to cook your lobsters the day they arrive, but they can be stored up to two days if needed.

If you need to store them when they arrive, wrap the lobsters in damp paper and store with ice packs or in the refrigerator and keep them as cold as possible — but don’t freeze them.

If your refrigerator is large enough, keep the lobsters in the shipping container and place it in the refrigerator. If you need to take them out of the container, cover your lobsters with a damp cloth until you’re ready to cook them. Lobsters will die if they dry out, and can only last so long when refrigerated.

Lobsters stored this way will stay sluggish and moist, but must be cooked within 24-48 hours — after this, your investment in fresh seafood probably won’t be so fresh.

You risk a dead lobster and a lost meal if you postpone your lobster’s rendezvous with your pots and pans.

Some handling tips you’ll finitely want to keep in mind when handling live lobster:

  • Don’t place lobsters in tap water. They are saltwater creatures, and fresh water will kill them.
  • Don’t seal lobsters in an air-tight container.
  • Don’t store lobsters in stagnant water.

Preparing to Cook Live Lobsters

Your lobsters will arrive with thick rubber bands around their claws. Fishers place these on the lobsters after they remove the lobsters from traps. You may leave the rubber bands on until after the lobster is cooked. That will protect you from getting snapped with a claw — live lobsters are feisty.

To pick up a lobster, grab it by its body — not by the claws or the tail. When you lift the lobster, it will probably curl its tail and try to strike you with its claws. Keep your fingers away from the underside of the tail. It has edges that may cut you if the lobster flips its tail.

Putting Live Lobsters to Sleep

Killing a lobster is a necessary step in the preparation process that can be stressful for some people. The University of Maine Lobster Institute has fielded many questions about whether boiling a lobster is humane. Their studies found that a lobster has a primitive nervous system, similar to that of an insect. To feel pain, an animal must have a complex nervous system.

Still, there are methods for putting lobsters to sleep so they don’t twitch their tails when boiled. We recommend minimizing how much a lobster moves or twitches in boiling water by chilling it first. This involves putting it in the freezer for 30 minutes. If it is still active after 30 minutes, keep it in the freezer a while longer.

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