How To Clean Florida Spiny Lobster

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Cleaning Florida Spiny Lobster


Cleaning the prized Florida spiny lobster isn't the problem; finding and catching them presents the far greater challenge. But for those fortunate divers who have their limit of "bugs" chilling in the cooler, this site presents a simple illustrated step by step process that makes cleaning your valuable catch fast, easy, safe, and efficient.

Mikhal Moberg demonstrates cleaning

Notice the gloves. Real men wear gloves when cleaning lobster. Every part of the lobster shell can cut, poke, slice, tear, and scratch you. Even the smallest wounds from lobster shells take a very long time to heal and seem to invite infection. These are cheapo PVC Home Depot gloves that we use for diving. About $4 per pair. Be a man. Wear the gloves. Don't bleed on the food.


Break off one of the antennas; we will use the middle piece of this jagged antenna as a plunger to ream out the anal vein from the lobster tail. If you have multiple lobster to clean, you can reuse this same antenna piece for all your lobster. Your antenna piece needs to be between 3" and 4" long.

Inserting Antenna  

We need to be sure to remove the anal vein. If you leave it in and cook the lobster, the residual will taint the meat surrounding it and you will waste a good portion of your tail. Carefully insert the section of broken antenna into the anal opening at the underside base of the lobster tail. If the lobster is still alive, it will violently flex its tail; icing the lobster prior to cleaning is a more humane choice.

Inserting Antenna and twist

Push the section of antenna in as far as it will reach and twist it several times from left to right, as if you were twirling a pencil in your fingers. Then remove. The coarse texture of the antenna will catch on the inside of the anal vein tearing it loose from the flesh surrounding it. Pull out the antenna. Don't panic; the anal vein will still remain inside the tail. All we've done for now is to loosen it.

Insert Knife

Next, we want to loosen the head from the tail. Insert your knife tip where the tail meets the head of the lobster and begin cutting. Notice the angle of the knife in the photo. Keep the knife at that angle as you cut. The meat extends up inside the head. Some folks skip this cutting step and simply twist the tail off the lobster. Unfortunately, much of the meat inside the head can be lost without taking the time to make this cut.

Cut all the way around

Continue cutting all the way around; be sure to keep your knife angled forward toward the head as noted in the photo.

Twist to remove

Now, as you hold the head securely, twist the tail and seperate the head from the tail. Notice how the vein pulls out from the front and remains attached to the head. You can see the thin vein in the photo hanging down to the right of the tail.

Removing the Antenna Photo

Lobsters over four pounds have a good bit of meat in their "horn" or antenna base. When removed, these horns can be boiled and cracked like snow crab legs to get the meat out. This meat is a little tougher, but makes super lobster salad! On the ten pound lobsters, you can boil and crack the lobster legs too. Even more great lobster salads! Insert knife, as shown, at the base of the horn.

Cutting Around base of Antenna

As you did with the tail, cut completely around the base of the antenna. This is not easy. The joint here is very hard. Be sure your knife is sharp and be extra careful that your knife won't glide off the hard shell and slice your hand. Setting the lobster on the ground and making these cuts will often give you more leverage.

Twist to Remove horn

When your cut is complete, twist and pull the horn loose from the head as shown. The lobster shown here is a very average size. Imagine the amount of horn meat you will get from an eight to ten pound bug! Lobster will keep in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 days. If you don't plan to eat it immediately, however, freeze it immediately. We put our bugs in gallon zip lock bags. Frozen lobster will easily keep 10 to 12 months.

Pile of Florida Lobster

Now get busy! Lots of bugs to clean! (It took alot more than two divers to catch these!) Cooking lobster? You can't mess it up. Boil it, steam it, grill it, microwave it; lots of butter and a little salt; you'll be feasting on Florida's premier seafood.

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