With new vendor Farmers Market Lobster coming this Saturday, we figure people here in land-locked Indianapolis may want a primer on keeping and cooking live lobster. Full disclosure – they’ll have fresh Jonah Crabs too!

According to FML, here is what you need to know before you head out to buy your lobster(s):

Come prepared. Bring containers (paper or cardboard) or coolers (not single use plastic bags). Pack and surround the lobsters with damp newspaper or damp paper towels and frozen gel packs. Try to pack for a snug fit as you do not want the lobsters smashing up against each other in transport, but leave them room to breathe.

Refrigerate when you get home. The best way to keep live lobsters is to store them with damp newspaper or paper towel in the coldest part of the refrigerator (usually the lowest shelf at the back or in the meat keeper). Keep lobsters in a loose paper bag or cardboard container. Do not put them in the freezer!

Cook as soon as possible. If you cannot cook them within 24-36 hours (ideal), you can partially cook them. After par-cooking, submerge in cold water for 3 minutes, drain, separate the tail and claws from the body (to prevent the tail from becoming mushy), and refrigerate. You can finish them any time up to 48 hours later.

Ready to Cook:

Here is a link to The Spruce Eats,  Top Ten Hints for Cooking Lobster, that includes:

  • How to Dispatch a Lobster
  • What Size Pot to Cook It In
  • Boiling a Lobster
  • Steaming a Lobster*
  • How to split lobster for broiling:
  • Grilling or Broiling a Lobster
  • How to Crack Open a Cooked Lobster
  • What Parts You Can Eat

Cooking the really big ones:

FML recommends baking or grilling the jumbo lobsters as boiling or steaming would take longer and possibly result in overcooking the outer or smaller parts. On their facebook page they provide a link from The Manual, How to Cook Lobster: An Easy Guide to Boiling, Grilling, and Roasting, that includes:

  • How to Dispatch the Lobster Humanely
  • How to Boil Lobster
  • How to Grill Lobster
  • How to Roast Lobster
  • How to Eat Lobster Like a Pro


*Steaming v. Boiling – According to The Joy of Cooking and MaineLobsterBoys, steaming is gentler, yielding slightly more tender meat. It preserves a little more flavor and it’s more forgiving on the timing front. It’s harder to overcook a steamed lobster. FML prefers boiling for more even cooking when you’re doing a lot of lobster and/or crab. Be careful with a huge pot of boiling water though — they can be really heavy.