Vegetarians, please look away. This post is for people who can’t wait for their Maine lobster. Finding a fair place to buy here on the shore is not that “hahd”, we know local Lamoine fishermen and women you can buy from. But then there are all those other questions, like, “What does the meat actually cost per pound?” and, “Which size lobster has the best price per pound of meat?”, and finally, “What about soft shell versus hard shell?”. Truth is, I’m not sure I can answer these tough questions without a little research. I will make the sacrifice for science and buy three different sized lobsters so we can get to the bottom of this. I will not be able to answer the soft shell question as at this time of year, all lobster are hard shell.
One of the assumptions about lobsters that I hear a lot is that there will be more meat as a proportion of total weight in a larger lobster. This is what I want to test. If I do find this to be true, then the question will be whether the extra meat will be worth the extra cost per pound for a larger lobster. There are usually three sizes, or rather size ranges of lobsters. The first is 1.0-1.25 lbs, the next is 1.25-1.5 lbs and the third is over 1.5 lbs. Usually each larger category fetches an extra $1 or so in price.
Now I have my three lobsters. The smallest is 1.03 lbs and costs $7.79 per pound. The next is 1.42 lbs and costs $8.79 per pound while the biggest is 1.74 lbs and costs $9.79 per pound. After cooking by the method below it’s time to weigh the meat. I will ignore the little legs and interior meat for this test. The smallest lobster has 2.54 ounces of meat for a ratio of 2.46 ounces per pound of whole lobster. The cost per pound then is $50.55. The middle sized has 2.45 ounces of meat for a ratio of 1.73 ounces per pound of whole lobster. The cost per pound is $81.46. Finally, the biggest lobster has 4.037 ounces of meat for a ratio of 2.32 ounces per pound of whole lobster. The cost per pound is $67.54.
First of all, is anyone else floored by the cost of the cooked meat? These prices are quite surprising! The rule of thumb is that meat only makes up about 20% of the lobster by weight, so it is logical that it should cost at least 5 times the price of the whole lobster.
The other shocker is how the weight of the meat seems to have little to do with the overall size of the lobster. Perhaps the question could be resolved with more data, but I can’t afford it. Maybe the meat proportion has to do with the way the lobster are handled; maybe storage in a winter pound denies exercise and the bigger ones lose more muscle mass?
I end up with more questions than I’ve answered. Now I’m going to have to try this again with fresh caught lobster from the boat instead of the supermarket. But first I’ll need to let my bank account recover.
• How do I prepare my lobsters?
o Fill a large (I use 5 gallon) pot half to two-thirds full with water.
o Add two large handfuls of seaweed (from the shore-low tide) to the pot.
o Set your burner to high heat and bring water to a rolling boil. This may take some time!
o Add lobsters to the pot head first, making sure that they are completely
submerged. I like to cut off the claw bands.
o Cover the pot tightly and return to a boil as quickly as possible. Watch for foaming!
o Once water is boiling again, cook the lobsters 10 minutes for the first
pound and 3 additional minutes for each additional pound. Example: cook a
two-pound lobster for approximately 13 minutes.
o When the lobsters turn a bright orange-reddish color and their tails curl,
they are done.
o Prepare some melted butter and lemon for dipping while the lobsters cool down.
o I like to provide some heavy duty scissors to open up the shells, a large discard bowl and plenty of napkins!