Not often do we have to cook live lobster, so it can be hard to know how long you can keep them before cooking. We may understand that live lobsters should be cooked as soon as possible for the best flavor, but sometimes life gets in the way, and you need to store your lobster for a few days before cooking.
In general, live lobsters can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two days before cooking. However, it is essential to keep them properly to preserve their freshness. This is because lobsters continue to metabolize and use energy even after being caught, which can impact the taste and texture of the meat.
In this article, we’ll explore the best practices for storing live lobsters to ensure they stay fresh and flavorful for the ultimate culinary experience.
Understanding the lifespan of live lobsters
In a commercial setting, such as a seafood market or restaurant, lobsters are typically kept in tanks or containers filled with seawater. This allows them to maintain a natural environment and prolong their lifespan.
Even in these controlled conditions, lobsters will eventually die as they continue to metabolize and use up energy.
But home cookers don’t have the luxury of a tank. That’s why knowing how long you can store lobsters before they expire is essential.
To ensure that your lobster stays as fresh as possible for two days, here are some essential tips:
- Store the live lobsters in a large container to hold them and provide sufficient air circulation.
- Add a damp cloth or paper towel to the container to keep it moist, and add some seawater if available.
- Place the lobsters in the bottom of your refrigerator (vegetable storage), where temperatures are more consistent.
- Do not overcrowd the lobsters; ensure they have enough space, so they don’t touch each other.
- Do not store in the freezer and defrost before cooking.
The temperature may take part in the lifespan of lobsters. If the temperature is too warm, the lobster may die faster than usual. That’s why it’s essential to store them in a cool, dark place and to keep your refrigerator set at or below 40°F (4°C).
Tips for selecting the freshest live lobsters at the market
If you shop by yourself at the market, you should be extra careful when selecting live lobsters. Always look for lively, active specimens with shiny shells and antennae. Avoid any that appear lethargic or sluggish, as they may not survive cooking.
Choosing live lobsters alone can be daunting, especially if you’ve never done it before. Even experienced seafood connoisseurs need to know what to look for when selecting the freshest lobsters.
Here are some tips:
- Look for active lobsters – Lobsters actively moving around in their tank or container are more likely to be fresh and energetic. Avoid lobsters that are lethargic or not moving much.
- Check the claws – Lobsters with large, heavy claws are generally a good choice, as they tend to be older and have more meat. Lobsters with small, thin claws may be younger and have less meat.
- Inspect the shell – Look for lobsters with a hard, glossy shell. Avoid lobsters with a soft or discolored shell, as this may indicate that they are not fresh.
If you are unsure which lobster to choose, don’t hesitate to ask the seller for their recommendations. They should be able to provide information about the lobsters’ age and quality. Give them ideas about what you plan to do with the lobster, and they may be able to suggest the best type for your needs.
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How to tell if a live lobster is no longer suitable for cooking?
Well, you know about their lifespan and how to select the best live lobsters, so it’s time to start cooking. But if you want to make sure that live lobsters are still fresh and tasty, here are a few things to check before cooking:
Strong ammonia smell
If the lobster has a strong ammonia smell, this may indicate that it is no longer fresh.
Slimy or sticky texture
A slimy or sticky texture can signify that the lobster is starting to decompose.
Soft or discolored shell
A soft or discolored shell may indicate that the lobster is not fresh and should not be cooked.
If the lobster is not moving much or seems lethargic, this may be a sign that it is not in good health and should not be cooked.
In case you need to store it longer than two days.
It’s best to freeze the lobsters. But, before freezing them, make sure they are dead and not just stunned. Then clean and gut them, wrap each lobster individually with an airtight plastic bag or freezer wrap, and place them in a sealed container or freezer-safe bag.
It may not be as good as the fresh one, but frozen lobsters can still be cooked and enjoyed.
When you’re ready to cook them, defrost the lobsters in the refrigerator overnight or in cold water for several hours before cooking.
You can also use lobster delivery services to prevent the situation next time. This ensures that your live lobsters are delivered quickly and safely, saving you time. With a lobster delivery service, you can choose the day you want your lobsters delivered and have them arrive fresh and ready for cooking. LobsterAnywhere.com is an excellent option for those who want to skip the market and enjoy fresh lobster at home.