Handling Lobster

Frozen Lobster Meat

Processing frozen lobster products utilizes the latest technological advances in blast freezing that ensures the highest quality and flavor of frozen whole lobsters and lobster meat. In order to maintain this high quality, it is important to handle the frozen product with the utmost care and respect.

Proper receiving, storage and thawing are as essential to a good final result, as the preparation in the kitchen. Ensure the processed lobster meat is fully frozen when purchasing or at the time of receiving a shipment. Temperatures warmer than -18°C (0°F) may cause product damage. Under ideal frozen temperatures of -26 to -30°C (-15 to -20°F) or below, frozen lobster can be stored with no quality loss for up to nine months. Store frozen seafood away from freezer walls and keep off the floor for good air circulation.

Thawing:
For best results the unopened can or pouch of frozen lobster meat should be immersed in cold water and placed in the refrigerator. Thawing times vary according to the package size but approximately two hours per pound should be allowed. Thaw whole frozen lobster in brine in the same manner allowing three to five hours per package for thawing. Frozen whole lobster should be separated and placed on a tray in the refrigerator.

Do not thaw frozen lobster meat in warm water or at room temperature. This causes quality loss and drip loss. If you wish to thaw small packs in a hurry, they can be set under cold running water. Always remember that frozen lobster products are not shelf stable unless frozen. The lobster meat is best consumed within 24 to 36 hours of thawing.

Preparation:
Once thawed, open the package or can and thoroughly drain the lobster meat. Pre-cooked meat is ready to eat, requiring only a short cooking time if it is to be served hot. Check out Tasty Recipes for some great ideas on how to prepare some delicious lobster dishes. Many of the recipes can substitute fresh frozen lobster meat in place of live lobsters. Have fun and experiment!

Live Lobster

Buying:
Whether you are buying lobster directly from a pound or store or are having it shipped, it is important that the lobster is alive before you cook it. Shipped lobster should show signs of movement when lifted. In prime condition a live lobster will display movement in its claws and will snap its tail if it is disturbed. Any lobster with sluggish movement should be used immediately. Lobsters that are totally limp (dead) should be discarded.

Lobsters come in various sizes from canners (1/2 pound to 1 pound) to jumbos (over 2 1/2 pounds). A 1 1/2 pound lobster (hard-shell) will yield approximately 1 1/3 cups of cooked meat. In their natural state, Canadian Lobsters are generally greenish blue to brownish olive. Regardless of the shell color they will all cook up red and have the same texture and excellent flavor. The key to successful preparation is to begin with a high quality hard-shell lobster.

Handling:
Live to lobster will keep 36 to 40 hours out of water if they are kept in a cool damp environment (refrigerator) and their gills are kept moist. Since they are a salt-water creature, care should be taken to ensure lobster are not exposed to freshwater ice or melt-water. Lobsters should be placed in open containers and kept moist with dampened newspapers or towels. Live lobster come with bands placed around their claws to protect handlers. For protection these bands should be left in place until the lobster is cooked.

After the lobster is cooked they should be stored in airtight containers and can be kept in the refrigerator for up to three days if they are not to be eaten right away. If the meat is removed from the shell, it can be kept for up to four days in the refrigerator. Cooked lobster meat can also be frozen for use at a later time.

Cracking a Canadian Lobster

One of the most common ways to enjoy a Canadian Lobster is a good old-fashioned lobster boil. Few foods can be as fun to eat, or as entertaining, as cracking a cooked lobster. While there are no secrets on how to crack a lobster and different people will have their own preferences, the following will assist those new to eating and cracking a cooked Canadian Lobster. The most important part is to remember to have fun and enjoy!

Before beginning it is advised to put on a bib and have a good supply of napkins nearby. As you crack the lobster be prepared for the occasional squirt of water. While some people prefer to start with the claws, others would rather start with the to delectable meat found in the tail. Its up to you!
To remove the tail, grasp the lobster around the body with one hand and the tail with the other and gently twist. Pull apart the two pieces.
[NOTE: You may notice a green substance on the meat which is called the tomalley. There may also be a red substance known as the roe (eggs) found in some female lobster. Both are edible and considered by many to be one of their favorite parts, however they can be scraped off if desired].

Twist the tail
To remove the meat from the tail squeeze both sides together until you hear (feel) the shell crack. Grab each side of the tail with a hand and open like a book. The meat can now be easily removed.

Cut or crack open the tail
To remove the claws, simply grab the body with one hand and gently twist the claws and knuckle with the other hand. Both claws and knuckles will separate easily from the body. Use care when holding the knuckle, since it has sharp protrusions that can hurt if not handled carefully.

Twist the claws
Crack the claws open with a heavy and sharp knife, or use a lobster cracker (like a nut cracker). Simply bend the claws after it is cracked and the meat can easily be extracted. You can also use the cracker to break the knuckle shell. Don’t forget to remove the meat found in the small part of the lower claws… you will want to get every tasty morsel.

Cut/crack claws open
The legs and the body also contain edible meat. Break and open the legs at the joint and use a fork or skewer to draw out the slender pieces of meat contained inside. For the body, simply pull apart the shell to expose the meat around the body. Remember all of the lobster is edible and the choice is up to you on how much you wish to eat.

Source: http://TasteLobster.ca