Food - Drink
Why You Should Squeeze Lobsters Before Buying
By LAUREN ROTHMAN
When buying lobster at the store, looking for a lively and energetic specimen is a good idea, since this indicates it was recently caught and is in good health. Additionally, beyond just observing a live lobster in its tank, you should give it a gentle squeeze (or ask your fishmonger to do so) before buying.
Lobsters periodically molt, or grow and shed their shells as they age; this occurs about 25 times during the first year of a lobster's life and once or twice a year after that. A lobster’s new shell directly after molting will feel soft, but home cooks want to look for hard-shelled lobsters, which are meatier in texture and have a better flavor.
Lobsters with a hard shell contain more meat, since the animal has filled out all of its shell space; water also pools in the shell when the lobster hasn't filled it out, so hard-shelled lobsters are less messy when you crack them open. When a live lobster is gently squeezed, a hard shell will hold up to pressure, while a soft shell will yield.
Hard shell lobster season typically runs from November to December, then through June to July, while soft shell lobster season runs from July to August through October to November. These dates vary from year to year, depending on the temperature of the water when the lobsters are harvested, so a squeeze test is always your best bet.