How to Buy
Lobster may be purchased live in the shell, or freshly cooked in the shell. When purchased live, lobster should show some movement and the tail should spring back when straightened out. Lobster that show no movement when handled and whose tail hangs down straight, are dead and should be discarded. When handling live lobster, be careful of the claws as they can give you a severe bite. To protect the handler and to prevent the lobsters from harming each other in captivity, the claws are usually immobilized by placing an elastic band around them. When buying cooked lobster, check that they are a bright "red-orange" colour, have a fresh aroma and that the tail section will spring back into a curled position after being straightened out. Lobster is sold as either canners or markets, in accordance with the size. Canners weigh between 1/2 and 3/4 pounds (250-375 g) while markets weigh over 3/4 pound (375 g). Lobster is also sold as cold pack (meat, frozen in cans), hot pack (meat, heat processed in cans), cocktail, chowders, paste, and whole, frozen in the shell.
How to Store
Live lobster should never be placed in fresh water or on ice. Under ideal cool, damp storage conditions, lobster can live out of water for up to 36 hours. They can be stored in your refrigerator for several hours by placing them in a large container covered with damp newspaper or seaweed. Cooked lobster in the shell can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days if placed in a tightly covered container. Shucked lobster meat can be refrigerated for 2-3 days. Live lobster should never be frozen but cooked lobster freezes well. For best results, the cooked meat should be removed from the shell and placed in plastic containers, glass bottles or freezer bags. Prepare a brine solution of 1/4 cup (50 ml) salt to each quart (litre) of fresh water. Pour this over the lobster so that all the meat is covered and a 1/2 ince (1.2 cm) headspace remains. Whole cooked lobster can be frozen in individual heavy plastic bags. Place the lobster in the bag, being careful that the sharp shell does not puncture the bag, cover with a brine solution, seal tightly and freeze immediately. Whole cooked lobster may also be frozen in plastic pails with tightly fitting covers. Pack the lobster in the pail, cover with a brine solution, leaving a 1 inch (2.5 cm) headspace, cover tightly and freeze. To thaw lobster, place it in the refrigerator and allow 15-18 hours defrosting time per pound (500 g). To speed up the defrosting time, place the package under cold running water for 1/2 to 1 hour per pound (500 g).
How to Prepare
Lobster should be cooked either in clean seawater or salted fresh water (add 2 tbsp./25 ml of salt to each quart/litre of fresh water). Fill a large pot with enough water to cover the lobster and bring it to a boil. Grasp the lobster firmly by the back just behind the claws and plunge it head first into the boiling water. Cover, return the water to a boil and then lower the heat to a bubbly simmer. Lobster will cook in 12-20 minutes depending on the size. Canners will cook in 12-15 minutes, while large lobsters will require up to 20 minutes of cooking time. Timing should start only after the water has returned to a boil. Once cooked, the lobster should be drained immediately, They can now be served hot or chilled quickly by being dipped in cold water. It is important to cool the lobster quickly so that they do not remain in the temperature range in which bacteria multiply rapidly. If you wish to use the lobster in a prepared dish, you can now remove the meat from the shell. Lobster has an average meat yield of 20-25%. This means that a 1 pound (500 g) lobster will contain 3-4 oz. (100-125 g) of meat. It will take approximately 5.5 oz. (160 g) of meat to make 1 cup (250 ml). If using canned lobster for your recipes, remember that an 11.3 oz (320 g) can will yield about 2 cups (500 ml).
How to Serve
There are two methods for serving lobster in the shell. The shell can be broken apart using lobster crackers and the meat then picked out, or the lobster can be cut in half down the centre and the claws cut open with a large heavy knife. All of the lobster is edible except for the shell, the small stomach (hard sac) behind the head and the dark vein, running down the back of the tail. The green material in the body is the liver or tomally. This is excellent eating, as is the red material, or roe, which is found in the body of the female lobster.