For anyone who doesn’t live in Maine, live lobster cooked and served at home is both a novelty and a delicacy. What a treat it would be to send lobster to your friends and family. However, shipping live lobster can be a delicate process to ensure the lobsters arrive fresh and healthy at their destination. Here are some steps to consider for shipping live lobster.
Source Quality Lobsters
Start with high-quality lobsters, ideally sourced from a reputable supplier. Ensure they are lively, healthy, and have both claws. If you live in Maine, buy lobster directly from a lobsterman or a reputable seafood store. We highly recommend Jess’s Market in Rockland. Their lobsters are sourced from local fishermen in Penobscot Bay and surrounding islands, and then briefly stored in aerated ocean water tanks. Jess’s Market also ships anywhere in the United States. Other sustainable sources we recommend include Greenhead Lobster and Maine Lobster Now.
Most lobster-shipping businesses use a sturdy, well-ventilated container that can withstand shipping stress. Styrofoam boxes with secure lids are typically the right size to avoid excessive movement during transit and to prevent them from injuring each other. Companies typically use wet packing materials and frozen gel packs to keep the lobsters cold.
Due to the nature of shipping a live creature and to minimize stress, most companies will use an overnight FedEx provider. It is recommended that you place your order for delivery at least two to three days before your occasion to ensure an on-time arrival. During the holidays, the demand is high for these Maine companies. Don’t risk your holiday meal or gift by waiting too long.
Buyer Beware — Mother Nature sometimes has her own plans in store, particularly with an El Niño winter expected to bring more snowstorms to Maine this year. Read the fine print with your shipper to find out what their policies are regarding bad weather and if it impacts the timely arrival of your shipment. All reputable companies guarantee that their lobsters will arrive live and healthy, but read below on how to keep the lobster in its best shape once it arrives.
Storing & Handling
When you receive your live lobster, it is ideal to cook them the same day, but within 24 hours maximum. Place them immediately in the coldest part of your refrigerator, typically near the back. Experts recommend you store them in a damp towel or in damp newspaper — but make sure they are ventilated — never put live lobster in a container with a sealed lid or they will die.
Also, never store lobsters in tap water, as freshwater lacks salinity and lobsters can only “breathe” in saltwater. However, due to their specialized gills, they can be out of water for a limited amount of time. Additionally, never try to cook a lobster that has either arrived dead or has died out of water while being stored due to increased bacterial growth.
No matter where you live in the United States, you can experience Maine the way we do with a delicious, memorable lobster dinner for the holidays.
Check out our recent blog on how to make lobster the centerpiece of your holiday meal. The 2024 Maine Lobster Festival will be FREE again July 31-Aug 4. Visit our website for details and come visit us!