Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Aug 24, 2009 11:53 AM

Lobster Stock - Urgent Help Required

Due to an electrical black out, yesterday I had to cook or throw out the entire contents of the freezer compartment of my fridge. I had the cooked shells of six lobsters, which I turned into stock.

The problems:
(1) When I began the stock, the shells were cool, but certainly not cold. The time elapsed between power failure and beginning the stock was approximately 30 hours.

(2) I fell asleep while one pot was cooling (cooking five separate dishes as quickly as possible was exhausting work)... with some lobster shlls in the pot! (I had removed the shells from the other pot.) I removed the shells from the 'shell pot this morning. Both are currently in the fridge awaiting decanting into freezer vessels.

Should I toss the pot with the shells? Should I toss both?

Thanks in advance, and Ciao, 'hounds.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I once made lobster stock and had it simmering, with the shells in it, for a couple hours, then I think (if I recall correctly), I let it sit overnight, covered, with shells still in it. In the morning I strained it and we used it in risotto, no problems. Is there a risk of listeria contamination with leaving the shells at room temp for so long? I was not aware of this. I would definitely not pitch the batch from which the shells were removed, but I am not expert enough to know how safe the one with the shells left in is, other than the fact that I was not personally killed by a similar product.

    1. With out knowing the ambient temperature and a number of other factors the universal rule is;
      When in doubt, throw it out!

      1. I'm not one who rushes to toss things, but in this case, I would. Too many variables here.

        7 Replies
        1. re: MMRuth

          I guess I"m outnumbered here, but can someone please inform re the risks from shellfish-based stocks as opposed to the risks from cold cuts, etc. I am aware of various listeria risks, based on having been (briefly, unsuccessfully) pregnant, but I don't recall reading anything about lobster stock. Of course, most people don't make their own lobster stock so I wouldn't be surprised if standard recommendations don't mention it. Are there specific bacteria that are likely risks in this case? I'm just curious.

          1. re: bella_sarda

            Are you really trying to compare shellfish to cold cuts?
            Cold cuts are typically full of nitrates. Shellfish are highly perishable. Any number of bacteria could be present in shellfish that have sat too long at to high of a temperature. Many of which could make you very ill including Campylobacter.

            1. re: Fritter

              This is precisely the kind of info I was looking for. I understand there are diffs between cold cuts and shellfish. My question was whether listeria poisoning is a threat from shellfish. It is known that listeria can contaminate cold cuts (as well as pate and various other foods) left at room temperature, and pregnant women for that reason are often advised not to eat cold cuts, preservatives notwithstanding. No need to insult my intelligence in your reply. BTW the preservatives in cold cuts are nitrites, not nitrates.

              1. re: bella_sarda

                P.S. I just looked it up, and it turns out that both nitrites and nitrates are used to preserve shelf life (and enhance color) of processed meats. I apologize for the snarky remark, but I was smarting from fritter's jab.

                1. re: bella_sarda

                  "This is precisely the kind of info I was looking for"

                  Glad to help. ;)
                  The risk with listeria for those pregnant is from the manufacturing process, not leaving cold cuts out for too long.
                  The CDC claims that pregnant women are 20 times more likely to become infected with listeria than non-pregnant healthy adults.
                  There have been cases of listeria in pre-cooked and frozen shellfish. AFAIK the biggest culprit is the processing facility. I have read that once they become contaminated with listeria that it's very difficult to get rid of.
                  For fresh Maine lobster or stock made from them you may want to be more concerned with the tamalley.
                  Since you appear to be allergic to shellfish I would sincerely hope this is a non-issue for you.


                  1. re: Fritter

                    Thanks for that info. The information about listeria online is very confusing. They say nothing about the manufacturing process (trying to protect the manufacturers I guess). I am not allergic to shellfish in general---only clams and oysters. I can eat lobster, shrimp, scallops, and mussels to my heart's content. Bizarre, I know.

                    1. re: bella_sarda

                      Listeria is a very real issue for pregnancy. The figures are sobering for child loss if the mother gets Listeria while pregnant.
                      After years of handling shellfish in professional kitchens I now get a mild reaction in the form of swelling and itching on my hands after I peel some shrimp.

          2. Not enough information...too many unknowns. --- Toss it!

            1. Well, all I did was taste the two batches (both tasted quite good, actually), and froze them in separate batches, so that I'd know which is which.

              Above I gave you the time. Ambient temperature ranged from18C to 22C, I would guess. The shells themselves were frozen very soon after cooking (ca.2.5hours), and had been in the freezer for about six weeks. Any other possible information needed?

              Thanks again.