Lobster FAQ’s

It is now that time of year here on PEI that us local folk consider it to be better than Christmas! It is Lobster Season!!! There is just something exciting about heading down to the wharf to get the first taste of lobster, and of course have a chat with the fishermen and women and ask the question everyone wants to know; how are the catches this year? Depending on the catches depends on price and availability.

There are many common questions we get asked about the lobster industry

1. How do you tell the difference between a male and female lobster?
The body of a female lobster will have a red material or “roe” which is excellent for eating.

2. How many lobster fishing seasons are there on Prince Edward Island?
There are two lobster fishing seasons each year, one in the spring and one in the fall.

3. Lobsters are fished using traps. What is the section of the trap where the bait is attached?
The bait is attached in the “kitchen.” The lobster enters the kitchen through a mesh tunnel that closes behind them.

4. Most lobsters are greenish-brown in color, though occasionally ones will turn up in shades of blue, partly white or bright red. It’s rare but it happens! Why?
These lobsters – those blue, partly white or bright red – have genetic defects in the pigment of their shell.

5. At one time, lobster was considered very common and not at all the delicacy of today. How did farmers use lobsters?
Farmers often spread lobsters on their field as fertilizer.

6. What is the difference between a canner and a market lobster?
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.

Here are a few tips that will help you enjoy your PEI lobster even more!

Where does one buy lobster?
Delicious lobster is available from tip to tip on PEI throughout the year! Or stop into the Olde Dublin Pub & Claddagh Oyster House

How to buy lobster?
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” color, have a fresh aroma and that the tail section will spring back into a curled position after being straightened out.

How do you Store lobster?
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?
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 lobster?
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 center 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.

Thanks for reading and enjoy your Lobster!