The American lobster is a species of lobster found on the Atlantic coast of North America, chiefly from Labrador to New Jersey.
Most commonly, it reaches 20-60 cm in length and weighs around 0.45-4.08 kg, but has been known to grow as large as 20 kg in weight and 64 cm in length, making this the heaviest crustacean in the world.
Lobster trade is the main economic (seafood) output of the North American region, with around 40,000 to 50,000 tonnes produced per year.
The closest relative to the American lobster is the European lobster (HomarusGammarus). The two species are very similar and can be artificially crossbred, though European lobster production capacity is only a few thousand tonnes per year.
The lobster should be moving around and holding its claws upwards. Lobsters with limp claws or little movement should be avoided. If a lobster produces bubbles from time to time, it means it’s alive. To check a lobster’s vitality, pick it up by the carapace (the body) and turn it over so the legs are facing upwards. If the lobster is alive and healthy, its tail will tense and either stay curled up or extend outward (if it is a lively lobster it mayflap its tail about). If the tail flops down loosely, it’s likely that the lobster is dead. Never purchase a lobster if you think it might be dead (unless the fishmonger can guarantee exactly when the lobster died). If a lobster dies, it should be kept chilled and cooked within 24 hours. Another indicator of a lobster’s health is the integrity of its tail meat once cooked. If the tail meat comes out of the lobster in firm chunks, the lobster was healthy and the meat is good to eat. If the cooked tail meat is crumbly (crumbles to the touch), the lobster has spoiled and is not fit to eat. If you are unsure of the health of your lobster, don’t risk it.
Good lobster should smell fresh. That means no trace of ammonia scent or‘fishy’ smell. The shell of a fresh, live lobster is a blotchy, dark brown and black color. This coloring can be surprising to people who have previously only seen it cooked, but rest assured this coloring is a sign of a healthy lobster. Lobsters only turn red once cooked.
When lobsters molt in the summer, they reach a peak in sweetness and tenderness. While freshly shed/new shell lobsters have less meat than a hard shell lobster, they are easier to crack and the meat is of a higher quality.
It’s best to cook and eat live lobsters on the same day they are purchased. If you need to keep them alive for a few hours before cooking, either store them in the coldest part of the refrigerator, covered with a damp towelor alternatively in a tank of saltwater. Remove them only when ready to cook. Fresh-cooked lobster or crayfish will keep for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator.
When buying lobster, females are preferred because of their roe (the eggs). The roe tastes quite good and is often used when preparing lobster for eating. Telling a male from a female is fairly straightforward. Hold the lobster up and once you have a firm grasp, turn itupside down and look at the mid-section where the tail meets the thorax (main body). You will see two little antennae-like features pointing up towards the thorax and body. The male feature is thicker and hard while the female is thin and soft, almost feathery.