Lobster Questions & Answers

Interac e-Transfer (formerly Interac Email Money Transfer) is a funds transfer service between personal and business accounts at participating Canadian banks and other financial institutions. The service is provided by Acxsys Corporation.

Participating institutions

Most Canadians who use online banking can send funds. These include personal deposit account holders with the big five banks, Desjardins, Tangerine, National Bank, President’s Choice Financial, and many credit unions and other institutions, as well as some small-business account holders. In 2015, 105 million money transfer were sent using the platform totalling over CA$44 billion in value.

Any personal account holder in Canada can receive funds.

Benefits and disadvantages

Unlike a cheque, the funds from an e-Transfer are not frozen in the recipient’s account. An e-Transfer cannot bounce, as the funds are guaranteed, having been debited from the sender’s account immediately upon initiating the transfer. As long as both sender and recipient bank at participating institutions, the funds are sent and received instantly. However in some cases, for example two people with different banking institutions, transfers may take anywhere between near instant, or up to a few hours for the receiving party to get their emailed notice.

However, like any online banking mode of payment, e-Transfers are vulnerable to phishing. Many Canadians in areas where the Big Five banks have little presence or who do not bank online are penalized by a surcharge when receiving e-Transfers. Unlike a real giro, an e-Transfer requires intervention from the recipient for every single transaction. An e-Transfer goes stale much faster than a cheque (after 30 days, the e-Transfer is automatically cancelled and the sender is notified by e-mail to retrieve the funds.)

As soon as your order arrives, please open the box and check the product.

If you ordered live lobster, check it for liveliness. If the lobster is moving around, then it is OK. If the lobster is weak, for example, if it has a droopy tail or claws, then it should be cooked right away. If the lobster is not moving at all and if there is an ammonia smell present, then the lobster has died during transit and should not be eaten.

Cover them with a damp newspaper to keep the gills moist and allow them to breathe.

Live lobsters are very perishable, and require a controlled salt water environment to remain alive.  They do not generally live much more than a day out of water, so ideally, you should cook your lobsters on the day you receive them.  (Cooked lobsters will stay fresh for at least three days in the refrigerator.)

Never place lobsters in tap water to try to keep them alive; lobsters are salt water creatures, and fresh will kill them.

The best way to keep lobsters alive at home is to refrigerate them; cover your lobsters with moist seaweed or a damp cloth (which you probably received with the lobsters when they were delivered), and leave them in the refrigerator until ready to cook.

If you ordered live lobsters, they will have been out of water for almost 24 hours when you receive them. Occasionally, one may appear weak or lifeless. This is a normal occurrence. In most cases, as long as the packaging material is in good condition, and the refrigerant is still cold, your lobsters will be fine. The best way to check is to boil the lobster. As long as the lobster’s tail curls when cooked, and the meat in the tail is firm, and in one piece, then the lobster was alive when it was cooked. Lobsters can live up to 72 hours out of the water.

If  purchased whole lobsters which have already been cooked (and several lobster delivery services offer lobsters boiled in sea water to lock in the “fresh taste of Maine”) you can keep them refrigerated for up to three days.  When you are ready to serve them, place them in a pot of rapidly boiling water. When the water returns to a boil, start timing. In just five minutes, your lobsters will be ready to enjoy.

Lobsters grow by molting, or by shedding their shells each year.  Just after they molt, they are soft and fragile until their new shell has hardened, and they are known as new shell or soft shell lobsters, sometimes called “shedders.”  After their new shell hardens, they are known as hard shell lobsters.

Soft shell are tender, sweet, and delicious, and represent about 90% of the catch during the summer months.  They are prized by Nova Scotia natives, and are less expensive than hard-shell lobsters as well, but they contain less meat than a hard shell lobster of the same size, because their body has not yet grown into its new shell, and so the lobster’s shell is larger than its body.

Soft shell (or new shell) shell lobsters do not travel well, and should not be purhcased for live delivery; most reputable companies will not even  try to ship live soft shell lobsters because they are unlikely to survive the journey.  Some companies do, however, offer precooked whole soft shell lobsters.

An adult female lobster will produce approximately 10,000 eggs when she is fertile. Each egg is the size of the head of a pin. As they grow, the eggs are held under the mothers tail with a special glue-like substance. The female will carry her eggs for almost a year. Then the eggs are released as larvae. It has been estimated that less than 1% of the eggs will survive to grow into an adult.

Lobsters grow by molting, or shedding their shells. Just after they molt, they are soft and fragile until their new shell has hardened. During this time, the lobster buries itself in the mud to hide from its natural enemies. When they are young, an immature lobster will molt several times each year. It takes approximately seven years for a lobster to grow to legal harvesting size (1-1 1/4 lb.). At this age, they molt just once a year, usually during the summer months. Each molt will increase their size by 1/4 lb. on average. When lobsters get older, they will often skip years, and molt less frequently.

Live lobsters are usually dark green or greenish-brown, but lobsters can be found in a range of colors including blue, white, orange, yellow, black, and sometimes even red.  “Calico” lobsters are multicolored, and some lobsters even have two distinct colors, separated by a line down their backs.  But whatever color they are when alive, all lobsters turn bright red when cooked.

Boiling Live Lobster

Boiling lobster is the certainly easiest way to cook lobster and a great way to enjoy the flavor of a fresh live lobster.  The meat of a boiled lobster also pulls easily from the shell when cracked, making boiling an especially easy way to eat — as well as to cook — a fresh lobster.  Steaming lobster can result in somewhat more tender meat, though, so if you have the equipment (a steamer pot, or even just a rack that sits inside your large pot) you might considered steaming as well.

It is best to boil a fresh lobster in seawater, but if that is not available, salted water works just fine; just add about two tablespoons of sea salt for each quart of water.

The pot for boiling lobster should be large enough to completely submerged the lobster in the water.

Bring the water to a full, rolling boil, and then place the lobster claws first into the water.  Cover the pot, and when the water begins to boil again, begin timing.

Cooking times for boiled lobster:

  • 1 pound lobster – boil 9 minutes
  • 1-1/4 pound lobster – boil 10 minutes
  • 1-1/2 pound lobster – boil 11 minutes
  • 1-3/4 pound lobster – boil 12 minutes
  • 2 pound lobster – boil 13-15 minutes
  • 2-1/2 pound lobster – boil 15-20 minutes

Steamed Lobster

Steaming lobster is one of the best ways to enjoy the true flavor of a fresh live lobster from Maine or other places.  Steaming is a gentler method of cooking than boiling lobster, and steaming keeps the lobster meat a little more tender then boiling.  It is also harder to overcook a lobster including lobster tails when steaming (if a lobster is boiled for too long it will be tough).  But it is a little more difficult to remove the meat from a steamed lobster (as compared to a boiled lobster), so if you want to make the lobster a little easier to eat after cracking, or if you are cooking the lobster to use the meat in a another recipe, you might prefer to boil rather than steam.

It is best to use natural seawater for steaming lobster, but if that is not available, simply add about two tablespoons of sea salt to each quart of water.

Cooking times for steaming lobster:

  • 1 pound lobster – steam 10 minutes
  • 1-1/4 pound lobster – steam 12 minutes
  • 1-1/2 pound lobster – steam 14 minutes
  • 1-3/4 pound lobster – steam 16 minutes
  • 2 pound lobster – steam 18-20 minutes
  • 2-1/2 pound lobster – steam 20-25 minutes

Once or twice during steaming, open the lid and move the lobsters around to make sure they steam evenly.

When a lobster is cooked, protein molecules in its shell bend into new shapes which reflect only the red wavelengths in light.

Lobsters have a primitive circulatory system and blood. When they are alive, their blood appears clear, but once they have been cooked, the blood congeals and turns white.  You will often see it on the claws in particular.

The cooked blood has no taste and is harmless, but you can easily scrape it off if you wish. Sometimes you will see some blood in your pot as you boil your lobsters; this is quite normal and perfectly harmless.

The “green stuff” that can be found in cooked lobster is tomalley, which serves as the pancreas and liver.  Some consider it a delicacy.  We have an article dedicated to lobster tomalley.

To pick up a lobster, grab it by the back, just above where the tail connects to the carapace (body). The lobster won’t be able to bend his claws back enough to get you. Be careful not to let your fingers get below the tail; the shell on the underside of the tail has some sharp edges, and may cut you if the lobster flips it’s tail as if it was swimming.  (Lobsters swim backwards by flipping that powerful tail; you may have heard the old expression “crabs crawl sideways and lobsters swim back.”)

It is difficult to establish the exact age of a lobster. The rate at which it grows depends on water temperature. The warmer the water is, the quicker it grows. In the Magdalen Islands, lobsters reach their commercial size at about 8 years of age.

We don’t know the maximum age of lobsters. However, they can live for more than 50 years.