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August is Lobster Month in the Pine Tree State
August is Lobster Month in the Pine Tree State
Jonathan Cartwright, White Barn Inn, USA
Jonathan Cartwright, White Barn Inn, USA

Flavors of Maine

All about lobster > August is Lobster Month in the Pine Tree State

The Maine lobster is a fascinating species about which countless books have been written, detailing its life cycle and even revealing how it was used as food for prisoners in the last century! I would not call myself an expert on the lobster, but living in Maine and working with so many of these magnificent creatures I have learned a little about them.

We use hard shell lobsters weighing between 1 and 2 pounds, which are approximately 7 to 10 years of age. A lobster will shed its shell a couple of times a year until it reaches the age of 7 years, each time increasing its body mass and growing a new shell. Lobsters consume their old shed shells. After 7 years the process is reduced to once a year and then at 8 and 9 years it slows to once every two years, while the rate at which the lobster's mass increases slows down as well. A lobster can live as long as one hundred years.

Buying lobster
Usually you can buy shedders (soft shell lobsters) for less money than hard shells but the yield from these lobsters is only half what you get from a hard shell. What's more, the flesh is softer and mushier since the lobster is using its own muscle mass to produce a new shell that will gradually harden over a month or two.

Knowing about lobster
Female lobsters reach maturity at approximately 7 years. A female can incubate as many as 100,000 eggs, but of every 50,000 eggs only two lobsters are expected to survive to legal size. There are presently major conservation measures in place, which include protecting lobsters that have a carapace length of less than 3 1/4" (carapace length is measured from the rear of the eye socket to the rear of the main body shell). Any lobster smaller than this must be returned unharmed to the sea. Egg-bearing females are also protected and if caught, must be placed back in the ocean. Lobster traps must have escape vents to allow too-small lobsters to exit the trap while it is still on the bottom. Nearly 90% of US lobster comes from Maine waters. Lobster has come a long way in the last century, from the days when New England states had to write a law stating that prisoners could not be fed lobster dinners more than twice a week!

Using lobster
We have many ways to use lobster on the menu throughout the year from soups to our Maine Lobster on a bed of fettuccine with cognac coral butter sauce. Here's a little peek into our upcoming book. An avant-première … 

Kennebunkport Lobster on Mango Salsa with Golden Osetra Caviar and Lobster Mayonnaise

Lobster Bisque

Lobster Spring Roll

Maine Lobster Hash

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