We know you’re going to eat lots of lobster when you visit Maine in August for the Maine Lobster Festival at Harbor Park in Rockland. It’s one of the area’s favorite summer traditions. A festival volunteer will hand you a tray stacked with a perfectly steamed crustacean, warm drawn butter, and all the yummy sides. Then you sit down under the tents by the water, elbow to elbow with other lobster enthusiasts, and crack open your lunch with your bare hands. It’s gloriously primal, messy, sweet, and savory.

You’ll probably return year after year for this unique experience. But at home, you are also going to want to invite friends and family over to experience the briny taste of Maine in a true lobster feast. Impress them with your expert knowledge acquired right here at Lobster Central. Here’s how to prepare and eat lobster like a real Mainer.

Tips For Cooking Maine Lobster

  • Steam, (rather than boil) lobster in the largest pot you have. Salt the water generously. it may be optimal to cook them in batches, or use multiple big pots.
  • Removing the rubber bands from their claws before cooking isn’t necessary, but it is more authentic.
  • A healthy live lobster has long, full antennae, and is active and feisty. If your lobster ooks limp and unresponsive, it may not be wise to serve.
  • We like lobsters that are 1.25-1.50 pounds in size. Soft shell lobsters are easier to crack and eat, and are available in Maine form may through November.
  • Bibs, wipes, metal crackers, and rolls of paper towels are a necessity for a great lobster party! Share, get messy, and have fun!

To Steam A Perfect Maine Lobster

In your largest soup or stock pot, bring 3 inches of salted water to a boil. Add lobster, cover and steam, 7 minutes per pound. Calculate time from when the water comes back to a rolling boil. Perfect steamed lobster shells are bright red in color, and the meat is not at all translucent. Remove lobster to from the pot and serve hot with melted butter.

How To Eat a Maine Lobster

Claws. Lobster claws have a special, lovely quality that is so delicate and delicious. Using your hands, twist off one claw at the closest knuckle joint. (Be careful with those serrated edges and spikes.) Next, rip off the “thumb” of the claw (the slimmer half of the pincer), and remove the meat inside it with a pick. Put the rest of the claw into a nutcracker on its flat side, and crack at the widest point. Pull out the meat with your fingers; it should come out in one piece.

Knuckles. These are the sections between the claws and the body. (There are four total.) You can pull off a knuckle with your hands and break it open with the nutcracker. Push the meat out of the shell with a pick. This is the sweet, precious essence of a Maine summer.

Tail. This is where the meatiest lobster meat lives. Maine lobster tails are renowned for their rich taste, firm, toothsome texture, and ability to soak up so much butter. Grab the body in one hand and tail in the other, and twist. Crack the tail and push out the meat in one fell swoop. Remove the dark vein and discard. Savor every bite.

Body. If you’re feeling intrepid, pull the top of the shell off the body and try the unctuous green tomalley (the liver) that has a concentrated deep sea flavor. For true lobster believers only.

This is an abbreviated version of how to eat a Maine lobster. For a video demonstration, full description, and more tips from a local expert, click here.