The New Englanders’ Guide to Picking a Good Lobster During Off-Season

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Ask an outsider what Maine brings to mind, and the response might well be: Bone-chilling winters. Forests. Moose. Quaint fishing villages along a rocky coast. Flannel shirts and Bean boots. And lobsters—lots of lobsters.   

Lobster meat is an elegant way to indulge your taste buds and yourself. Steamed, boiled, grilled, butter-poached; there are many ways to cook it. The outcome is always a hearty meal that you can enjoy with beer, wine, whiskey and even champagne. Lobster is a traditional summer food in New England, but you can enjoy it at any time you want if you follow our tips on buying lobster meat.

How Do We Get Lobster In the Winter?

All year round, lobster is caught in New England, although the majority is harvested between late June and late December. In this time frame, the lobster is the most active. When the temperature drops, lobster becomes less active, and the harvest brings lobster in smaller quantities. The off-season lasts until late spring. The harvest is usually in full swing by the time Memorial Day comes. 

Seafood seasons sometimes change because of the weather and climate in general. But there is absolutely no reason to worry about not getting lobster for your Christmas dinner or mid-February family gathering (if you celebrate the Chinese New Year).

Lobster is actively harvested all the way through the late autumn, which means there will be enough inventory to meet the holiday demands. Lobster is most scarce in January through March — that’s when the water temperatures are the lowest and that drives lobster further offshore. 

During that time, the prices tend to go up due to the high demand and the fact that most of the lobster is being shipped to Europe and Asia. But that is in no way a reason to stop you from buying lobster meat and spoiling yourself and your loved ones with tasty home-cooked crustaceans.

Tips on buying lobster

Now you know what’s the best time to buy lobster. However, there are a few more things to consider when picking the perfect clawed sea critter.  

Liveliness

Lobsters are one of the few creatures that need to be alive when you cook them. Lobsters and other shellfish have harmful bacteria in their flesh. Unfortunately, it may not be destroyed by cooking the lobster dead. Cooking the lobster alive minimizes the chances of food poisoning.

Size

Giant lobsters ever recorded weighed around 40 pounds. In reality, you are more likely to find lobsters between 1 and 3 pounds. The most popular size of Maine Lobster is approximately 1 ¼ to 1 ½ pounds. The larger a lobster is, the more pricey it gets. However, the size doesn’t necessarily affect the quality. Undersized lobsters are more flavorful, cheaper, and easier to cook.

Lobster color

Contrary to what many believe, lobsters aren’t red, so you shouldn’t be surprised when buying lobster meat. Most lobsters are either blue-green or mottled brown. When lobsters are cooked, they lose all blue and brown pigments leaving just the bright red skin visible. Mystery solved.

Hard or Soft?

While soft-shell lobster meat is softer and seems like an obvious choice, it also holds more water and less taste. It can only survive for 24 hours when taken out of water. Hard-shell lobster is considerably stronger as it can live up to 40 hours out of water. Hard-shell lobster, specifically Maine hard-shell lobster, is considered a delicacy and is well-known worldwide for its superb quality and taste.

Where To Buy Lobster in Winter?

The best way to buy anything in this day and age is online. It saves time that would be otherwise wasted on navigating your way through traffic, looking for a parking space, and standing in line. Safety is also of great concern nowadays and avoiding crowds of people when possible is a nice bonus.

Another thing that makes buying lobster meat online even more appealing is choice. Local shops and markets may not have everything you want to spoil yourself, whereas online shops don’t have lines. There’s more extensive stock and more options since they only sell products from one category. 

Price is yet another appeal of online shops. There’s no need to hire extra staff, i.e., cashiers and consultants, which means there’s no need to compensate for the costs of employing these people by raising prices on products. It is a great deal. You can get all your stuff delivered right to your door at a lower price, and the quality will often be even higher than in typical shops and stores.

So go to an online shop of your choice and remember the tips for choosing the lobster we listed before. Pick an excellent hard-shell lobster for your luxurious meal (because every meal that includes this tasty crustacean is sumptuous). Click a button and do whatever you like with all the free time you have since you don’t need to waste it on a stressful trip to a crowded shop or market. 

Once it’s there, cook it as your soul desires — there is no wrong way of cooking a lobster, whether it’s boiled or grilled. Dip it in the butter or squeeze some lemon on it,  take a bite with a sip of your favorite drink and relax. After all, that’s what it’s all about: a hearty meal that can make your day perfect.  

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