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Video: How to Kill a Lobster

Video Length: 1:23
Produced by: Sarah Breckenridge; videography and editing by Gary Junken and Mike Dobsevage.

Whether you're steaming lobsters for a Maine-style clambake, a classic New England Lobster Roll, or throwing them on the grill, it's most humane to kill the lobster before you cook it. Learn the simplest way to kill a lobster quickly with test kitchen contributor Nicki Sizemore.

And though there's plenty of debate lately about how to humanely kill a lobster, it's nice to know that the author of The Secret Life of Lobsters, Trevor Corson, agrees with what we demonstrate here.

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posted in: lobster, how to
Comments (14)

seasa writes: I have dispatched live lobsters before, I always chill the little guys down, you gotta believe that will calm them, and like the Vet said, they do that fro reptiles, so it make sense to me.
I wanted to try this method, as I wondered if it might be a faster way for it to die, as opposed to the boiling water. I did it, fast , etc, but the continued movement was freaking me out. We went to cut it in half to toss it on the grill, but when I went to do that, the tail flipped way more than I was comfortable with.
It was super delicious, but be warned, it moves a lot more then just the little movement they showed in this vid.
Posted: 5:52 pm on February 16th

chatrooms writes: Great guide, made fresh lobster for the first time in my life! Posted: 7:34 pm on January 31st

Lupini writes: Ok now that I have read the other comments before mine..... As a vet I know that all cold blooded animals depend in temperature for their metabolism. So. Putting them in the freezer doesn't suffocate them. It acts as a very effective sedation. We use this exact technique for sedating reptiles like snakes, turtles etc so that we can initiate general anesthesia or dare I say euthanize them. So please, putting them in the freezer makes perfect sense. I wish I'd thought of that in regards to lobsters myself!
And for information's sake; my father learnt how to do crab from aboriginal Canadians. Whack them through the centre of the head and then split off the legs etc. It was a Cowichan Indian who saw him stuffing beautiful west coast BC Dungeoness crab into boiling water and set him right. As a doctor my Dad was only too happy to do it more humanely. Posted: 4:17 pm on May 23rd

Lupini writes: Thank you, thank you for this instructive video. I hate putting them in boiling water. My father taught me how to do crab but until now I didn't know how to do lobster. As an "almost" vegetarian I really appreciate this! Posted: 4:05 pm on May 23rd

Cybarr writes: I find it humorous that someone would cancel their subscription to this magazine over this video.
I grew up on a dairy farm and witnessed first hand the evolution of a cow's life cycle, from birth to the dinner table. Not to mention the chickens, rabbits and the odd duck, goose, deer and/or moose that wandered thru the field
during hunting season.
To eat something you first must end it's life, that's a fact. If that part bother's you stick to tofu....LOL! Posted: 2:29 pm on August 23rd

lillian109 writes: unless all you people who chastise fine cooking on how to kill a lobster are vegaterians think about how they kill the meat you eat! tkank you for showing us the most humane way to cook a lobster. Posted: 11:41 pm on August 22nd

DontheMyth writes: Let me ask you a question? How many of you have ever stepped on a cockroach? Lobsters are nothing more than underwater insects: six legs, head, thorax and abdomen. They belong to the same phylum (arthropod) as the common cockroach. If you don't have a problem squashing pests in the cupboard, then sticking them with a knife or throwing them in boiling water shouldn't be a problem either.

Science is a beautiful thing. Posted: 8:37 pm on August 14th

Bronwyn writes: Looking forward to:
How to Kill a Hog
How to Kill a Cow
and "Serving the People of Earth" Posted: 5:02 pm on July 11th

SueDawson writes: Thank God lobsters aren't native to the west coast! That video was one of the most inhumane I have seen. If your concern is for the lobster's suffering, then don't eat them, as wmstark wrote. I am cancelling my online subscription to Fine Cooking. Canadian Living will suffice. Posted: 6:04 pm on July 10th

Allgoodie1 writes: Hey - just wanted to weigh in with a method I learned from French Laundry cookbook, which makes ME less squeamish: put the lobster in a pot and add COOL water till he's completely covered. (This measures how much water you'll need, so that you'll be heating enough to cover him all at once.) Then drain the water and heat it in a kettle or other pot till boiling. Then pour the boiling water back over the lobster. He will 'relax' right away - no struggling, arching, claws, etc. As for whether a lobster feels 'fear' - well, they have no pain receptors similar to ours, and while they do perceive temperature changes, it is unknown whether these changes are stressful or painful to them. It seems to me that sudden death by whatever method is probably best - after that it's all about which method stresses ME out the least! Posted: 12:33 pm on July 9th

elisebuck writes: I'm sorry, but I just feel that the suggestions in this video are just as bad as dumping the lobster into boiling water. If a lobster does in fact feel pain and fear, then how do you think it feels suffocating on its back in a freezer for 20 minutes. I'm just not buying it. Posted: 11:10 am on July 9th

Gregele writes: Does anybody really know what a lobster goes through when immersed in boiling water? I imagine it is dispatched about as fast as when I knife separates its brain from its body. And, since the brain likely stays alive longer after the knife treatment than the boiling water, which method is more humane? Save the knife treatment for grilling (honestly, you better kill them first, because once they arch their back off the hot grill the rubber bands burn off. Then, they are both armed and mobile. Guess how I know!)and steaming when the temperature will not quickly do its deed and you'd like your lobster stationary. Posted: 9:08 am on July 9th

wmstark writes: HELLO!!! Exchanging boiling for freezing!! It's not your pet and it doesn't "think" like a sentient being. If you don't want the lobster to suffer throw in back into the ocean and eat a carrot. Otherwise BE HONEST!! Posted: 7:36 am on July 9th

Salzburg1 writes: I have the kindest way of putting a lobster in the pot. An Asian woman explained it to my mother in Toronto. I have practiced it several times and it works.
Gently stroke the lobster between its eyes for 1 to 2 minutes. This puts the lobster to sleep. Have the pot of boiling water ready. As soon as the deliciously poor animal realises what has happened to him he is dead. Posted: 11:47 am on July 6th

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