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Traveling with Lobsters

wannbe_foodie Jun 8, 2007 08:33 AM

I'm interested in buying a few lobsters to travel to the midwest next week.

Firstly, since lobsters are food and will be packaged with ice - can we travel with them now with all the restrictions?

Can anyone recommend a Boston-area location (prefer North/West of town) that will package them for traveling?

And, if we purchase the lobsters the evening before we travel - do we need to eat them that day that we arrive?

Thanks for your help!

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  1. galleygirl RE: wannbe_foodie Jun 8, 2007 08:44 AM

    Call ahead to James Hook, pay by credit card. Pick them up on _the way_ to the airport, ready to go, and packed for travel, with ice packs and seasweed. You can check them thru.
    You probably have til the next day to eat them.

    1. Bob Dobalina RE: wannbe_foodie Jun 8, 2007 08:47 AM

      Second the James Hook thing, although not for the squeamish...they pack them in pretty tight and the idea of confining a living creature in that manner could be potentially upsetting.

      Also, remember NOT to put them in fresh water in your guest's bathtub when you arrive at your destination in an effort at penance for the cramped transportation situation.

      AND if you suddenly realize that fresh water will "drown" them, please remember that adding table salt to the bathtub really will not approximate the salinity of sea water.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Bob Dobalina
        galleygirl RE: Bob Dobalina Jun 8, 2007 08:50 AM

        The only thing NOT packing them tightly does is allow them to get banged around while traveling....

        1. re: galleygirl
          Bob Dobalina RE: galleygirl Jun 8, 2007 09:03 AM

          That's a good point - but Hook just jams the creatures into a foam container, puts in a silver ice pack and a handful of seaweed. Then staples the lid shut. I think they could use a bigger box and use more filler that would provide protection.

          Yeah, I know...I am going to scald them to death in the end - but if I had to kill the cute little cows and sea bugs all the time, I would probably be a vegetarian. Let's hear it for alienation.

        2. re: Bob Dobalina
          fullbelly RE: Bob Dobalina Jun 8, 2007 10:55 AM

          Uh. Is that the voice of experience? lol!

        3. Infomaniac RE: wannbe_foodie Jun 8, 2007 11:45 AM

          If they include seaweed, make sure to use some in the water you cook the lobsters in, and take off the rubber bands from the claws before cooking too.

          11 Replies
          1. re: Infomaniac
            galleygirl RE: Infomaniac Jun 8, 2007 04:31 PM

            Er, um, if you take the rubber bands off _before_ cooking, you'll have to deal with one angry lobster!

            1. re: galleygirl
              Chris VR RE: galleygirl Jun 8, 2007 05:56 PM

              I worked clambakes for years and we ALWAYS left the rubber bands on.

              1. re: Chris VR
                galleygirl RE: Chris VR Jun 8, 2007 06:00 PM

                Really; too scarey otherwise!

                1. re: galleygirl
                  Infomaniac RE: galleygirl Jun 8, 2007 07:23 PM

                  maybe it's me, but I have this idea that the taste of the rubber will transfer to the lobster....i know it probably doesn't but i have my own issues.
                  i''ve never had an issue though getting lobsters into the pot without the rubber bands.

                  1. re: Infomaniac
                    galleygirl RE: Infomaniac Jun 8, 2007 07:35 PM

                    How many fingers do you have?

                    Like ChrisVR, I did lobsterbakes for many years, and cooking 100 pounds of lobster a week,(at one go) no one ever tasted the rubberbands...I have issues too, like enjoying all my digits...;)

                    1. re: galleygirl
                      Infomaniac RE: galleygirl Jun 8, 2007 07:45 PM

                      still got all my fingers, just a few lost marbles.

              2. re: galleygirl
                Harp00n RE: galleygirl Jun 9, 2007 06:16 PM

                Lol, we're aren't talking 22 pounders here are we? The average 1.5 to 2.5 pounders is fairly easily relieved of the rubber bands and should be. I understand that it would be a hassle in clambake quantities but when dealing with 2 to 6, especially when steaming as opposed to boiling them remove the bands. Would you throw a flip-flop in as a Boquet Garni? Simple criss-cross the claws in front of the lobster with two hands. While holding them in place with your off-hand cut the band with your dominant hand. You can do it, I promise. DW at 5' nothing and 105lbs. does it all the time :-))

                1. re: Harp00n
                  Infomaniac RE: Harp00n Jun 9, 2007 06:36 PM

                  I have a good size lobster stock pot with a steaming basket. I usually use a oven-mit to hold the lobsters when I cut the bands, then thow the lobsters in the basket and drop it in the pot.
                  If I had to do 100 lobsters, I'd leave the bands on.

                  1. re: Infomaniac
                    Harp00n RE: Infomaniac Jun 9, 2007 07:09 PM

                    Well that'll certainly work as well, Infomaniac. I'm also glad to see you steam them bugs as opposed to boiling 'em.

                    1. re: Harp00n
                      tdaaa RE: Harp00n Aug 7, 2007 09:20 AM

                      Why steam instead of boil? I have always boiled, as do most ME lobsta pounds.

                2. re: galleygirl
                  ScubaSteve RE: galleygirl Aug 8, 2007 09:25 AM

                  lobsters are banded primarily to keep them from eating each other. the protection that the bands offer us is secondary.

              3. kobuta RE: wannbe_foodie Jun 8, 2007 10:59 AM

                I'll also advocate James Hook as a good option. I travelled with their lobsters all the way to Hong Kong and Australia before. Have them pack it with dry ice. Our lobsters arrived alive and kicking. I believe we did eat them the day we arrived, more because storing them would be a pain. If you're not sure (it may vary on airlilnes), you can call ahead and make sure it's still kosher.

                1. n
                  North Ender RE: wannbe_foodie Jun 8, 2007 09:41 PM

                  If you aren't up for dealing with the traffic around James Hook, you can head straight to the airport, where the Legal Sea Foods locations in Terminals B and C sell live lobsters.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: North Ender
                    toffifay RE: North Ender Jun 9, 2007 10:53 AM

                    I agree- if you want to avoid the hassle but don't mind spending more - Legal's at the airport is a good place to buy live lobster to fly. I only had a short trip to DC - so I got one from Anthony's Pier 4 at American Airlines Terminal B - and it was a perfect surprise for my parents who love fresh seafood.

                    1. re: toffifay
                      sillyca RE: toffifay Aug 4, 2007 07:09 AM

                      Thank you so much for your wisdom. I was just doing a search on this very subject as we are going to be travelling 20+hours by box truck (humans in front/cargo in back)- and my husband wanted to suprise the ppl with lobsters. It usually takes us an overnight stay and then a whole days drive through the next night to get where we are going. Would the lobsters last that long in dry ice/newspaper/ layers in a cooler? We know of a place that sells 13 for $70- culls. Could we just then keep them in the coolers with the dry ice until it is time to boil them? I don't think the fridge at our destination has room for 13 in the veggie/meat bins.
                      Thank you so much.

                  2. mcel215 RE: wannbe_foodie Jun 9, 2007 05:31 AM

                    I have worked on Lobster Boats and packed lots of lobsters for travelling friends and family.

                    Dry ice is imperative, and when you arrive at your destination, put the lobsters in the vegetable bin/drawers on the bottom of the refrigerator. Don't add the dry ice or anything else for that matter. If you have more than a couple lobsters, put them in two drawers. I have kept them alive and kicking for a couple of days this way.

                    And if one does perish during your trip, you have about eight hours to cook and eat it. A way to tell if it's still good. Cook seperately, and fold the tail under the deceased lobster, and place on the bottom of the pan with a couple inches of boiling water. When the lobster is cooked, if the tail is tightly curled, the lobster is still good. If the lobster is limp and the tail doesn't curl, it's not good to eat. If you aren't comfortable with this test, please toss the lobster out. But, I have had to cook many expired lobsters in my career, because of refrigeration problems, and I hated to toss them. JMO.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: mcel215
                      StriperGuy RE: mcel215 Jun 9, 2007 11:56 AM

                      Dry ice... don't you risk freezing the lobsters solid. I've never heard of using dry ice for lobsters.

                      1. re: StriperGuy
                        mcel215 RE: StriperGuy Jun 9, 2007 12:03 PM

                        No you don't rish freezing the losbsters.

                        Place a couple of packs of dry ice on the bottom of the carton/box, add a couple of layers of newspaper. Put in the lobsters, more newspaper on top, and a couple more packages of dry ice.

                    2. trufflehound RE: wannbe_foodie Jun 9, 2007 09:44 AM

                      Jamed Hook rocks.

                      1. a
                        ameria RE: wannbe_foodie Jun 9, 2007 12:07 PM

                        I agree with all those recommendations for James Hook. I would also like to add that they at least used to ship them for you after packing them in dry ice. I've had them sent to Japan like this- not cheap, but a nice New England-y gift.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: ameria
                          hotoynoodle RE: ameria Aug 7, 2007 09:09 AM

                          james hook and legals will ship. why bother with the hassle?

                          further somebody explain how the "flavor" of the rubber band could permeate a lobster shell? lol.

                          1. re: hotoynoodle
                            Infomaniac RE: hotoynoodle Aug 7, 2007 09:30 AM

                            Seeing that I stated that I remove the rubber bands from the claws before steaming I'll explain my reasoning.
                            It's strickly a personal preference knowing rubber is mixed with various chemicals. It may or may not effect the flavor, and I have no issue handling a few lobsters without rubber bands or pegs in the claws. If I was cooking 50 to 100 lobsters, I'd prbably leave them on, but I'm not handling that many.
                            A lobster shell may be hard, but it's not air tight.
                            Again, it's a personal thing. I just don't like to steam or boil rubber with my food.

                            1. re: Infomaniac
                              hotoynoodle RE: Infomaniac Aug 7, 2007 09:55 AM

                              i can appreciate the aversion to chemicals and honestly always snip off the bands myself. seems like the flesh would cook more uniformly.

                              1. re: Infomaniac
                                raddoc RE: Infomaniac Aug 7, 2007 10:50 AM

                                I'm with Infomaniac on this. I've always removed the bands (and by the way, never been pinched, bugs are not the brightest bulbs, and easy to avoid). hotoy, it's easy to explain: the "rubber flavor" gets in the water, and the water "permeates" the shell, the lobster, everywhere. That said, I've left the bands on occaisionaly, and only once or twice did I really feel that the lobster tasted "off".

                                really like them quotation marks, don't I?

                                1. re: raddoc
                                  hotoynoodle RE: raddoc Aug 7, 2007 11:11 AM

                                  sorry, i'm dubious about the rubber flavor. all that water and those two tiny bands ? fwiw, all the restaurants i've worked at leave them on. i assume for the sake of speed and never once did a guess complain their lobster tasted like a tire.

                          2. s
                            sillyca RE: wannbe_foodie Aug 7, 2007 07:22 AM

                            I just called a dry ice company and the man said that dry ice would essentially kill the lobsters as it gasses off it would suffocate them like it would us... He said to use regular ice and pack in seaweed.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: sillyca
                              C. Hamster RE: sillyca Aug 7, 2007 11:50 AM

                              Call J Hook and see what they say.

                              I have muled many, many lobsters from here to Chicago over the past 25 years. I almost always got them packed in dry ice and they stood up plenty well.

                              RE carrying them on, I am not sure about the ice/dry ice issue, but they count as a carry on and when the airlines switched to allowing one only, I started to check the lobsters through in my luggage.

                              The only problem came once when United lost my luggage for 3 days ...........

                              1. re: sillyca
                                mcel215 RE: sillyca Aug 7, 2007 03:38 PM

                                Most of the lobstermen that I know, do dry ice.

                                In 25 years, no lobsters that I have shipped, expired from gas. Ice will melt at a very fast rate, and the fresh water will kill the lobster. We always layered the dry ice at the bottom of the box, then newspaper or seaweed, add your lobsters, and add more newspaper, then another layer of dry ice.

                                But, I am not trying to sell you on anything. It's just the guys on the boats have been around lobsters even longer than me, passed on their way, is all.

                                1. re: sillyca
                                  Dax RE: sillyca Aug 8, 2007 07:03 AM

                                  In my limited experience taking lobsters on a plane, most places that "shipped" them this way would pack the lobsters in dry ice in one of those vented cardboard cooler boxes so the gas would not be trapped in the box.

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