How to Clean Lobsters

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Red Lobster
Red Lobster (Image: Image by rxleal.)

Seafood is one of the most sought after proteins in the world and is widely accepted by most cultures as a lush food. In the US, lobster is even seen as a luxury food item as it does not come cheaply. Americans consume over 15 pounds of seafood a year each on average. Lobster, along with other seafood can actually help prevent cardiovascular disease making its health benefits and qualities more attractive. Some people prefer to cook their lobster whole while others prefer their lobster be cleaned first before cooking begins. Either way, cleaning your lobster is simple and will also prevent inedible pieces from being consumed.

Deliver a quick death blow. Using the sharp pointed edge of a knife, plunge it in between the eyes of your chosen lobster killing them instantly. Movement may occur after this has been performed but is only muscle spasms and reflexes after dying. This will make your lobster easier to handle and keep you from sustaining piercing injuries that a live lobster may deliver.

Remove the lobster tail. In order to remove the lobster tail you will twist it in one direction a little less than one full turn. After you have made that turn then rotate the tail back in the other direction until you feel the disconnection. Now simply pull the pieces apart in a forward and down motion to separate. Another method of retrieving more meat from the body is by running a knife in between the space of the body cavity a tail connection all the way around the circumference of the inside of the body of the lobster. After this the tail may simply drop off without any force necessary if performed correctly.

Discard the gooey membrane. There may be some liquid and membrane that comes out after the separation, be sure to discard this immediately as it can become sticky after it has congealed. Some of this liquid may have already come out if you killed your lobster using the severing method.

Break off one of the antenna of the lobster so that it is halved with the other end of the broken antenna. With the disconnected piece of the antennas' wide end, shove it about a half an inch into the anal cavity of the lobster at the very bottom of the tail. Turn the antenna about three to four times so that the barbs on the antenna will sever the colon and begin to slowly remove the antenna with the colon attached to it when you begin to pull the antenna from the anus. Repeat this if it does not remove all of the anus and colon.

Clean any left over parts and refrigerate the tail immediately. Rinse your lobster thoroughly and store it in a very cold refrigerator. A lobster tail will be good for about 72 hours if stored in a cold refrigerator but begins to lose freshness past that point and is best to cook immediately for best results. The blood of the lobster will be sticky when congealed and must be cleaned as soon as possible to keep the area sanitary.

Prevent the spread of harmful bacteria by sanitizing the area. Lobster can have somewhat of a "fishy odor" that is left behind if it is not cleaned properly. Sanitation is also necessary to destroy all harmful bacteria that my cling to other food that is prepared on the same surface. Refrain from reusing dish cloths and sponges that were used to clean an area used for seafood preparation. One of the best practices is to use a separate cutting board for your seafood and other meats. Launder the dish cloths and sponges in very hot soapy water or use disposable items to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria.

Tips & Warnings

  • If it is your first time performing a lobster cleaning, two people are recommended to complete these steps until the routine is more familiar.
  • Use gloves when performing all of these steps especially while the lobster is still alive as it can inflict wounds to the bones of your fingers if unprotected.
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