There’s more to lobster than just looks. It’s important to know how it feels.
Give your lobster a squeeze.
The quality of lobster meat depends to a large extent on where the crustacean is in its molting cycle, the period during which the hard, old shell is replaced with a soft, new one. You can determine the stage of your lobster with a gentle squeeze. A soft shell will yield to pressure. A hard shell won’t.
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When shopping for lobster, the harder the shell, the better. Hard-shell lobsters taste better and are meatier.
The shell also gives away the lobster's gender.
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There is no discernible difference in taste between a male or female lobster. But let’s say you’re a fan of roe. In that case, you’ll want to look for a female lobster. You can do this by feeling the legs of the lobster. Her soft “swimmerets,” or the appendages under the lowest legs, give her away. A male's swimmerets will feel harder than the female's.
So go ahead and judge a lobster by its shell. We encourage it.