When your main ingredient is live lobsters, timing is everything. You want to ensure you’re cooking them as soon as possible after purchase to provide the best quality and taste.
And storing live lobster on the ice is one way to keep them fresh until it’s time to cook. But how long can you do this for?
Live lobster can stay on ice for up to 24 hours, but it’s best to cook them immediately. The problem when storing live lobsters on ice is when the ice starts to melt, or water accumulates; the lobster can become stressed because the water shock will kill it.
To help improve their condition, ensure the lobsters are covered with a damp cloth to keep them moist and cool while in ice storage. It will help keep the lobsters from direct contact with the melting ice.
In this article, I will explain why storing live lobster on ice is not a good idea and how to keep live lobster properly before cooking.
Is It a Good Idea to Store Live Lobster on Ice?
Yes and no, storing live lobster on ice is sometimes ok, but it’s not the ideal way.
I recommend keeping them on ice for a short time (4 – 6 hours). I was told it could stay up to 24 hours, but honestly, it will depend on the temperature of the room and the lobster itself.
So, use this method only when you need to transport your lobsters quickly or don’t have other options. But never store it for an extended period on ice because the lobster can become stressed and die.
The damage from the water temperature shock and being in contact with the melting ice can kill the lobster. Because lobster lives in cold seawater, they will be shocked when living in fresh water and when temperatures change.
As mentioned before, cover live lobsters with newspaper or a damp cloth to minimize the effects of direct contact with melting ice. But if you’re want to store lobster for more than 24 hours, there still ways to manage.
How to Store Live Lobster Properly?
Keeping live lobsters in the refrigerator is a better way to store them for an extended period. Ensure the temperature is between 40 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the refrigerator(Typical temperature settings in a household refrigerator).
Live lobster can stay up between two to three days in cold storage, but don’t forget to check them occasionally.
While it can store in the refrigerator, it is not meant to store live lobster in the freezer. The shock of the cold temperatures will kill them. And don’t store them with other food items; the odor and gasses may cause them to die.
Please read our guide about: How to keep live lobster alive to get the best quality lobster for your recipes.
There are other methods to store live lobster, but cooking them as soon as possible after purchase is best. If you have read this article after holding them for more than 24 hours, knowing how to tell live lobsters are still fresh is necessary.
How to Tell Live Lobster is Still Fresh?
Knowing whether live lobsters are still safe to eat is essential, especially when stored for more than 24 hours.
Check and inspect the lobster’s shell. If it looks firm and shiny, then it’s still fresh. Also, ensure no signs of black spots or discoloration in the shells.
The lobster’s tail should be curled when picked up, and try to feel the body part and see if it is soft. Also, the lobster should have a slight seawater smell with no other strong odor. Any off odors or discoloration are signs that the lobster has gone bad.
You can also try to move the lobster around. Live lobsters will move their antennae and claws; it is a sign that they are still alive. If the lobster does not react, then it has already died.
Finally, live lobsters should also be able to resist any force when you pinch them with your fingers.
If Lobster Died, is it Safe to Eat?
Yes, you can still cook and eat them; it will be safe to cook them thoroughly. But lobster meat tastes better when it is alive.
However, I recommend cooking and consuming them within 2 hours after they die. After that, bacteria will grow in the lobster’s meat, making it unsafe to eat. It will become more noticeable after 2 hours because the odor will intensify, and the lobster’s shells will break down.
Therefore, it is safer to throw away dead lobsters if you think it has been more than 2 hours after they died.
In Case You Need to Store Live Lobster Longer Than 2 Days
You can boil the lobster alive and store it in the refrigerator or freezer. This way, you can ensure it is safe to eat when ready. And freezing cooked lobster meat can keep for up to six months.
But please note that cooked lobster meat tastes different from live lobster meat. The texture will also be softer after boiling them alive. Therefore, choose the live ones if you need to serve fresh-tasting lobster.
The noticeable difference in texture and flavor is not much if you’re not serious, but if you have bought a live lobster, consume them as soon as possible to get the best out of them.
Because freezing lobster meats are available and can find anywhere else, the fresh ones still taste better. And you can easily manage it using the methods discussed in this article.
I hope this helps!