Commercial Fisheries News - October 1999

Banding lobster claws

The primary reason claws are banded is to protect lobsters from each other. Banding the claws has the added benefit of protecting those who handle lobsters.

Years ago, lobstermen used wooden pegs to wedge shut the claws. That practice was stopped because pegging lobsters caused an open wound. If the wound became infected, the infection could spread from one lobster to the next, resulting in unnecessary shrinkage.

Although the rubber band method is less injurious than pegging, it does have problems of its own. Three that come to mind are:

Each of these problems has a simple solution that many of you are already aware of.

To minimize the probability of claw loss due to banding, hold the lobster in one hand by the base of the claws while banding with the other hand. If the lobster is too large to hold in one hand, place the lobster on a surface and hold securely in place while banding. Both of these options give the lobster a sense of security, for it is not dangling in mid air.

To minimize damage to soft-shelled lobster claws, most lobstermen use different grades of rubber bands for the claws. A flexible band is used for soft-shelled lobsters. A tighter band is used for hard shells. This method is effective unless the lobster is extremely soft. Then, if possible, the lobster should be stored separately until the shell has had a chance to harden a bit.

Finally, to maximize the quality of flavor of the lobster meat, I always remove the bands before cooking the lobster. If the lobster is taken directly from cold water or from the refrigerator, it should be sufficiently calm and slow that you shouldn't be pinched. Bon Appetit!

Ask the Lobster Doc