How to Buy Live Lobster

Shopping for a deal on lobsters online? Buying live lobster can be a little intimidating. Here are a few tips for landlubbers and first time shoppers on how to buy live lobster without getting taken as a tourist. Follow these simple suggestions for picking out the perfect lobster for cooking at home.

As you can see there are plenty of online lobster companies. How do you know which lobster company to choose?

Want to know the secret to a great lobster? It’s simple: it’s the lobster!

#1: 3 Signs of a Lively Lobster

You don’t want lobsters that are swimming in the pounds for weeks. Zombielike lobsters that barely move and have droopy claws are called “sleepers”.  Stay clear from these lobsters. 

Healthy, feisty lobster will raise their claws and flap their tail when pulled from the sea water.

  • When pulled from the tank, a healthy lobster should flap its tail and raise its claws.
  • If the claws droop, the lobster is weak and has no fight.
  • An easy test is to push the tail straight— if it does not re-curl, try another lobster.

Avoid a Sleeper Lobster: A sleeper lobster is a sluggish or not so lively lobster that may be near death.

#2:  Buy a Fresh Lobster

Another sign you’ve bought a fresh caught lobsters is if the claw bands are clean.

Check the lobster for two long antennae. Lobsters with missing or chewed antennae have also spent time in storage. You also do not want to buy a lobster with a cracked shell or claw. Lobsters held in a tank for a long time will eventually lose weight and the claw meat will shrink.

#4: Buy a Hard-shell Lobster

Hard-shell lobsters ship well because they are stronger and hardier. Equally important, hard shell lobsters have more meat and better texture. Select a lobster that feels heavy for its size. Squeeze the sides of the lobster’s body; the soft shell will yield to pressure, while the hard shell will be firm. Soft-shell lobsters will always be cheaper than hard shell but may not necessarily be a bargain in the end.

How to Buy Live Lobsters

#5:Male or Female Lobster?

Generally, there is no taste difference between a male and female lobsters. Adult males will have bigger claws and only female lobsters have roe inside, which some consider a delicacy. Female lobsters have a meatier tail.

To identify male and female, turn the lobster on it’s back and look at the first pair of swimmerets, or appendages, just where the body and tail meet. The male lobster legs are thick and stiff while the female legs are soft and delicate.

#6: Best Time of Year

Generally, the best time of year to buy Maine lobsters for delivery is before Memorial Day (before the summer tourists arrive) and after Labor Day (when the tourist leave). In the summer the catch consists of a high percentage of soft-shell lobsters, while hard-shell lobsters are sometimes hard to come by. Next to late spring, fall is another prime time to buy great lobsters. Learn more about the best times of year for lobster.

#7: What size lobster

Lobsters come in different sizes, from under legal size to a whopping 20 pounds. If lobster is the main event, a 1-1/2 to 2 pounds per person is in order. Live lobsters are sold by the weight of each individual lobster. Lobsters take approximately 6-8 years to reach marketable size.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest lobster ever caught was a 44-pound leviathan caught in 1977 off the coast of Nova Scotia.

In Maine, lobster carapaces – the distance between the bottom of the eye socket to the end of the largest shell – must measure 3 and 1/4 to 5 inches. Maine state law forbids fishermen from keeping any lobsters that measure more than more than five inches from the eye to the start of the tail.

TIP: Ask if culls are available. Culls are lobsters missing one claw, usually less expensive and good for a recipe calling for cooked lobster meat.

Live Lobster Grading Sizes follow:

Chix: also called chickens: 1.0 – 1.24 lb
Quarters: 1.25 – 1.49 lb
Halves: 1.50 – 1.74 lb
Deuces: also called twos, two pounders, and selects: 2.0-2.25
Heavy Selects: 2 – 2.5 lb.
Jumbos: Over 2.5

FACT: A lobster with no claws is called a ‘pistol’ or ‘bullet,’ often the result of a fight. Lobsters can regenerate their claws.

How to Buy Lobster
The ultimate guide to buying lobster online or at your seafood market.

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If you are looking for a good deal ask if culls are available, lobsters that are missing one claw. Culls are usually less expensive and a good choice for a recipe calling for cooked lobster meat. Remember that you can order live lobsters from LobsterAnywhere, one of the best online seafood companies.

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