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Traveling with Lobsters

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. 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. 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

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

        1. re: galleygirl

          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

          Uh. Is that the voice of experience? lol!

        3. 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

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

            1. re: galleygirl

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

                1. re: galleygirl

                  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

                    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

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

              1. re: galleygirl

                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

                  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

                    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

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

                2. re: galleygirl

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

              2. 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. 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

                    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

                      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. 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

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

                      1. re: StriperGuy

                        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.

                      1. 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

                          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

                            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

                              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

                                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

                                  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. 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

                              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

                                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

                                  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.