Tips for a Lobster Fest
August is Maine Lobster Month, but don't wait for a special occasion. Summertime in New England is prime time for a lobster fest.
Just get together a few friends, some tried-and-true side dishes and some lobster for a marvelous taste treat and a fun time for everyone. I'll share some tips for putting on a lobster fest and for cleaning up after one. It's worth all the effort and is a special meal that your friends and family will look forward to every year.
Photo by Virginia Allain
A Lobster Fest Can Be 2 People or 30 People
Anytime you have lobster, it's a lobster fest
Here's my sister and her husband, Larry, on their first visit to New England. Of course, we had to have a lobster feed so they had the full New Hampshire experience.
My husband steamed the lobsters and we ate them on the back deck. It was 78 degrees outside, a typical New England summer temperature, and tall pine and maple trees surrounded us and provided shade. A wonderful place to be and the lobster feast was heavenly.
Photo by Virginia Allain
Have You Been to a Lobster Fest?
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You'll Need a Lobster Pot - like this graniteware pot
Corn on the Cob Is Traditional with Lobster
Getting Ready for the Lobster Fest - Steps for putting on a lobster fest for your friends and neighbors
- Choose your date. Look ahead at the weather forecast or plan for possible rain. We use a big canopy so rain isn't a problem.
- Make up your guest list. Ours is limited to the number of people that will fit under our tent and the number of lobsters that will fit in our pots.
- If you're independently wealthy, buy all the lobster yourself. For the rest of us, I recommend setting the lobster fest up with everyone chipping in for the cost of the lobster. Let them know the approximate cost of lobster and find out how many they want. Call the seafood place to reserve the number and size of lobster that you will need. Let them know that the actual cost of the lobster will be market price as it fluctuates from day-to-day.
- Make up your menu and include it in the invitations if it's going to be potluck. Let the guests sign up for appetizers, corn-on-the-cob, potato salad, cole slaw, dessert. Figure out what you will provide like napkins, plastic ware, sodas, beer and wine, butter, etc. If you are ambitious, prepare and serve all the food yourself. The potluck spreads the workload and no one minds bringing one portion of the meal.
- Send invitations or call to invite guests. Here's an example of the invitations you can find at Zazzle. Click on this one to browse for other lobster invitations.
Shiny Red Lobster Invites available from Zazzle
- Check your supplies and stock in any needed items. Be sure you have enough butter for both the lobster and the corn on the cob. I've bought a lot of my lobster plates, lobster crackers, and related gear at Reny's. If you're in Maine, you'll find the Reny's at these locations.
- Set up as much as you can the day before the lobster fest. I get all my lobster plates, crackers, picks, napkins, etc. out and stacked ready for the event. Put up your tent if you are using one. Don't forget that you'll need large plastic bowls for the center of the tables for everyone to throw their shells into.
Outdoor Gas Cooker - for cooking lobster
You can steam lobster on the side-burner of a regular grill. Don't try boiling them that way as the water and lobsters are too heavy and will break most side-burners off. This can be slow to get the water to the boiling stage.
The better and faster way is to get one of these gas cookers. We use a two-burner one so we can heat two pots of lobster at once.
How to Steam Lobster
Basically you put a small amount of water in the bottom of the pot, add sea salt, bring to a boil. Put the lobsters in & return to a boil for 15 minutes. Check these lobster recipes for more details and variations.
My Husband Steaming the Lobsters - Photos by Virginia Allain
Lobster Themed Table Cloths and Placemats - for the lobster fest
Lobster is meant to be eaten outside. Cover your picnic or patio table either with disposable paper placemats or plastic tablecloths. Take a look at these cute lobster weights to keep the lightweight tablecloth in place. Alternately, you can use those plastic or metal clamps for holding down the tablecloth.
For anyone who is eating lobster for the first time, it's great to have placemats that show how to eat a lobster.
Luxurious Lobster Napkins
These make a lovely hostess gift for whoever is putting on a lobster fest. Probably they'll save them for sometime when they are having lobster pie or lobster bisque and eating inside. For the outdoor lobster feed, I recommend thick paper napkins and LOTS of them.
Ready to Eat Lobster
Prepping for the Lobster Feast - Photos by Virginia AllainClick thumbnail to view full-size
You'll Need Lobster Crackers and Lobster Picks - for the lobster fest
I recommend having a cracker and a pick for each guest. It is too much trouble to share these. (people use wooden hammers for crabs but they aren't good for lobster). The long slim crackers that look like a nutcracker work best. The short, stubby ones shaped like a lobster claw are cute but not as effective, in my opinion.
Tips on Lobster Picks
Some people use nut picks. Those are fine, but you can also get seafood picks like I'm showing here.
When clearing up afterwards, hunt up the metal picks from the plates or around on the table so those don't accidentally get thrown out.
Tips for the Butter
It has to be real butter. Margarine just won't do the job for lobster. Melt the butter shortly before everyone sits down. Do not put it in the microwave. That's a no-no and creates a big mess.
Just heat it in a small pan on the stove. If the weather is cool, the butter will congeal at the table and not be good for dipping the lobster into. In that situation, the individual heaters like shown below can keep the butter liquid.
Melt the Butter for the Lobster
These are the deluxe way to serve the butter for the lobster.
It's OK to just get the small butter ramekins, then melt butter in a pan on the stove to pour into the ramekins. It's best for everyone to have their own butter for dipping.
How to Get to the Meat in a Lobster
The first time you eat a lobster, it's rather daunting. How do you get through that shell, is there meat in the claws and should I eat what I find in the upper body cavity?
The answers to these questions is made clear in the videos I feature below.
How to Remove the Shell and Eat a Lobster
Add Color with Lobster Themed Oven Mitts, Potholders & Towels
If you've been invited to a lobster fest or lobster boil, the items below make great hostess gifts to take. A bottle of white wine is always welcome as well.
Cleaning Up from a Lobster Fest
- If you have leftover cooked lobsters, you can freeze the lobster whole and then re-steam them to eat another time. You can also take them apart and just freeze the picked lobster meat. This has never happened that we had any leftover though. People love their lobster too much and all are consumed immediately.
- Bag all the debris from the lobster, keeping an eye out for stray lobster crackers and picks that you'll need to retrieve. Put the bag in a secure outdoor trash bin that raccoons or other critters can't get into. Hopefully your trash pickup will be in a few days as the lobster shells will quickly stink to high heaven on a warm summer day.
- Wipe down the picnic tables and chairs with a spray cleaner like Windex.
- Wash the lobster pots, plates, and everything with lots of hot, sudsy water. You may have to spray them with Windex to cut the grease from the butter. Put the pot out in a sunny spot to air dry.
- I store my lobster pots in a large trash bag and then put them into a deck box outside. The lobster plates, picks and crackers, and other accessories get stored inside.
Use the Leftover Lobster to Make Lobster Rolls - the next day
Actually, we never have any leftover, but just in case you do...
Here are videos showing how to fix a lobster roll.
Two Ways to Make a Lobster Roll
© 2012 Virginia Allain