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Jun 13, 2007 11:24 AM

large lobsters vs. small lobsters

I know it varies per lb based on hard shell or soft shell, but does anyone know in general if there is more edible meat in:
one six lb lobster,
two three lb lobsters,
three two lb lobsters or
six one lb lobsters?

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  1. Lobsters in general are known to have an approx. 20% meat yield. This is for north Atlantic lobsters from New England and Canada, so I don't think you will find more edible meat in larger lobsters.

    1. I'm not sure it matters.

      FWIW, I work with a guy from Cape Breton (NS) and he refuses to eat any lobster over 1 1/4lbs. He says the meat becomes much tougher after that. So "Edible" becomes a relative word.


      2 Replies
      1. re: Davwud

        We have had different luck. I will admit it is very easy to overcook bigger lobster but remember this rule of thumb double the size does not equal double the time. When we do 5lb lobsters we steam it for 30-35 minutes. Take it off the heat and let it steam for another 5 or so minutes. Then stop the cooking by dunking them in a bath of ice water and the meat is as good as a 1-1/4. My biggest problem is finding a pot big enough for the Beast, our 16 quart Tamale pots are just big enough for 1 5lb-er

        You can check out the post when we made lobster rolls here:

        Take Care

        - P.

        1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

          I agree that it is very easy to overcook a large lobster, and if you do overcook a large lobster the results are tougher meat.
          I steamed a 4lb. lobster this past weekend and got enought meat for two lobster rolls, and lobster eggs Benedict for the morning.

      2. Bigger lobsters have a higher volume to surface ratio, yeilding a little more meat per pound. Not a big difference. A bigger difference is hard vs. soft shell, with hard shells yeilding more meat per pound and soft shells generally a sweeter meat.

        More stuff -- lobsters kept in tanks live off their own selves, so the fresher the lobster the more meat. (One place in Cape Cod puts dead fish in their tanks for the lobsters to eat, so that's not an issue!) Female lobsters have a slightly wider tail section -- the one next to the body -- so they also have slightly more meat. They also have the roe - yum! How to tell gender? The swimeretts are those little wavy thingies under ther tail, and of the pair closest to the body the female's are soft and feather, and on the males are hard.

        On a very practical level, though: on bigger lobsters the smaller chunks -- legs, swimmeretts, body, "shoulders" (where the legs join the body) are much, much easier to get at, yeilding a fair amount of meat. The legs, especially have a higher volume to surface ratio, and the shoulders' meat is *much* easier to get at.

        One cooking tip: Whenever you boil or steam lobsters, crab, or shrimp strain, reduce, and save the cooking water, freeze and use the next time. (If you've used lemon, etc. in the water use less -- or none -- the next time.) Not only will the shellfish be better tasting, at some point the stock will be dense enough for a great bisque!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Richard 16

          Great tip on freezing the cooking liquid! Thanks for that.

        2. It seems to me that it is a surface to volume issue (squared vs cubed) so that there is proportionally more meat (volume) as the size increases. This used to have an impact on pricing with larger lobsters selling for several $/pound more than the smaller ones due to the higher yield of meat. Now, larger lobsters are quite scarce relative to the one pounders and are priced accordingly. Incidently, I would dispute the notion that larger lobsters are less succulent than smaller specimens. Its how you cook them and how long that matters most.

          1. I have had lobsters as big as 6, 8 and 10 pounds. No difference in quality. Just don't overcook. They seem to have more meat per pound than smaller ones.