How to Prepare Your Live Lobster

by Bill St. John

Some keeping and kitchen tips if you’re taking some of these summer savories home for Independence Day (or Whenever Day) dining:

  • Maine lobster meat has fewer calories, less cholesterol and less saturated fat than chicken meat. Until comes along the dip in butter …
  • Because lobsters sport both lungs and gills (these latter located, interestingly, in the legs), it is best to store them loosely wrapped in wet newspaper or paper toweling (or kelp, if you have that sort of thing lying around the house), in the coldest portion of the refrigerator. Not in cold unsalted water. Not under ice.
  • In truth, it is best not to store them much at all. Our lobsters come to you fewer than 24 hours out of their Maine source of water. Shipped overnight into DIA, they’re best eaten the evening of the day on which you pick them up.
  • Lobsters are associated with summer because that is when they are hungriest and most active, in their preferred seawater of between 45-50 degrees. 
  • Live lobsters aren’t red; they’re brown-black, all black, or mottled. So don’t fret the initial colors. Lobsters turn scarlet only when the heat of cooking suppresses all the pigments in the chitin (pronounced “ky-tin”), the substance of their shell, except the red pigment. 
  • As to killing them to eat them - there, we’ve said it - the closest we come to being conflicted omnivores, much has been pondered and considered about how most “humanely” (always a strange word used this way) to dispatch them. Knife through the head? Plunge eyes first into boiling or, better, steaming water? Numb with clove oil? Get drunk on Everclear? (The lobster; not you.) 
  • Because the lobster’s nerve ganglia are dispersed throughout its corps, and not massed centrally as in other creatures, many scientists suggest that anesthetizing the entirety of a lobster by freezing it for 30 minutes (thereby numbing all its nerve system at once) is the first thing to do. Then, whichever axe you fell doesn’t much matter.