If you’re a lobster lover, you already understand why it’s considered such a treasured delicacy by so many. But if you’ve ever found yourself staring into a tank of live lobsters with no idea how to choose one yourself, you’re certainly not alone! Choosing and cooking your own lobster is a much bigger undertaking than ordering your favorite freshly made lobster roll in Boston, but here are five tips to help you out:

1. No Need to Follow Your Nose
When lobsters are alive and healthy, they shouldn’t give off any odor. If a lobster is giving off an odor, don’t buy it.

2. Livelier is Better
When you pick up the lobster, if it has droopy claws and legs, don’t buy it. If, on the other hand, the lobster waves its claws about and flexes its tail, it’s healthier, fresher, and likely hasn’t been cooped up in the tank for too long, and thus a better choice.

3. Check the Length of the Antennae
When lobsters are kept together in a tank at a grocery store or fish market, eventually they will begin to eat one another’s antennae. You can judge how fresh a lobster is and how long it’s been in the tank by the length. Longers is better!

4. Check Out the Weight
When it comes to choosing between lobsters of the same size, check out the weight. A heavier lobster will be considerably more meaty than a lighter lobster of the same size.

5. Soft Shell vs. Hard Shell
Soft-shelled lobsters have recently shed, and tend to have sweeter meat. Lobsters who have not shed in a long time might have meat that is a bit tougher. You can gauge how old the lobster’s shell is by taking a look at the underside of the lobster. A newer shell will have very few scrapes and scratches on it, if any.

Once you’ve chosen your lobster, be sure to properly store it at home until you cook it—which should be on the same day you purchase it. Keep the lobsters moist and chilled, but not on ice, until you boil, steam, or roast as desired! Cooking a lobster to perfection might require a whole other set of tips, but choosing one that’s likely to be tasty is really half the journey. With a bit of experience and practice, you’re sure to become a skilled lobster connoisseur, even in your own kitchen.

Boston & Maine Fish Company serves up a variety of fresh fish dishes, including lobster. Visit us and taste what makes us famous! For more updates check our Facebook Page.