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Did you know that a lobster’s meat goes bad only a few hours after its death? This prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to say that you must only select the live ones when preparing a seafood dinner. This helps explain why you might see lobsters swimming in an aquarium in seafood restaurants. So, when choosing a live lobster to cook for dinner, you should observe its leg movement to confirm it’s still alive. And since cooking the lobster kills it, you should consume it immediately before it spoils. But if you end up with leftovers, you will need to know how to tell if lobster is bad.
You can tell whether lobster has gone bad by paying attention to its appearance, smell, and consistency to confirm whether your lobster meat is still safe to eat. Unless you refrigerate your lobster for the next day, you may only have two hours before its natural enzymes and external factors spoil the meat for good. In this article, we discuss the different signs telling whether your lobster has gone bad. We also provide some information about alternative methods of preparing lobster that you might be wondering about, considering that the best lobster dishes require them to be cooked alive.
Signs That Cooked Lobster Has Gone Bad
Unless you refrigerate your lobster (which may extend its meat’s life for three to four days), it will go bad after two hours. You can also confirm your lobster meat’s edibility by checking for the following factors:
This sign is common among rotten food. Be sure to get a good look at your lobster meat that’s been sitting on the dining table for some time before eating it. Any discolored meat is a sure sign that your lobster has gone bad.
Watch out for parts that have turned green or have strange white spots that are different from the pure white lobster meat. Seeing these other colors on your lobster meat should be enough to kill your appetite. But if you are considering simply removing the discolored parts and eating them, you might want to think again. Eating spoiled food can cause food poisoning.
2) Soft Consistency
Freshly cooked lobster meat should be tough, solid, and tender, just as a few examples. But if you touch the meat and it feels soft and slimy, your lobster may have already gone rancid. It would be best to toss your lobster once you find that it has become too squishy to touch.
3) Pungent Odor
Rotten food has a distinct, pungent odor about them that gives away whether you can still eat them. This stench comes from various microbes that have populated the meat. While you might think that reheating the spoiled lobster meat will kill the bacteria, you cannot eliminate the toxins they leave in the meat. Go ahead and discard the stinky lobster meat and avoid the risk of getting food poisoning.
Can You Freeze Live Lobster?
You might wonder if you can keep a living lobster in the freezer to preserve its freshness until you decide to prepare a nice seafood dinner. However, there are essential steps you need to take to prepare your lobster for freezing – plus, keeping a live lobster in the freezer isn’t humane.
Since your goal is to maintain the lobster’s quality, you need to freeze it uncooked. That does not mean you freeze it alive. You can freeze a lobster to extend its shelf life for up to a year with the proper technique. This mainly involves blanching it and putting it in the freezer afterward. Here are the steps to preparing a lobster for your freezer.
Can You Cook a Dead Lobster?
You have better chances of avoiding food poisoning if you cook a live lobster. However, you might find situations where you have to cook a dead lobster, such as if you buy one from the store or you just don’t have the heart to cook a live animal. Should you find yourself in such a situation, be sure to cook the lobster as soon as you get home. You only have a few hours until the uncooked lobster goes bad.
Once you get home, you can prepare your lobster by boiling it in water with salt to your taste. It might take between 10 and 20 minutes to cook your lobster thoroughly, depending on its size. You could also steam your lobster instead of boiling it to avoid exposing it to too much water. It usually takes the same amount of time to steam your lobster as you would boil it.
Humane Way to Kill Lobster
Some people claim that lobsters don’t have a well-developed nervous system, justifying that it’s alright to cook them even if they are still alive. However, lobsters are crustaceans. Behavioral studies in crustaceans have suggested that they can feel pain. Knowing this scientifically backed fact, you might think twice before shocking them in cold water and then throwing them into a pot of boiling water.
Some chefs prepare their lobster by killing it right before they cook it. This method minimizes the animal’s suffering as much as possible. Some of them run a knife along its body, cutting it in half before grilling it. Others claim that electrocuting the lobster is the quickest way to end its suffering.
If you’re wondering how to tell if lobster is bad, check for the signs you would typically look for in spoiled food. Bad lobster will smell pungent, have discoloration, and feel slimy. You want your lobster to be fresh, appetizing, and firm. When it comes to uncooked lobster, you only have a few hours until bacteria will rot it. Rotten raw lobster will also be slimy.
Since you only have a small window to enjoy your lobster dish, it’s usually best to cook it alive. Boiling a living creature may turn you off, though, so consider preparing your lobster how some chefs do. They usually kill the lobster right before they boil or steam it to avoid prolonging the animal’s agony.
Check out our other pages to learn different ways of preparing your favorite seafood dishes.