How Long Can Lobster Stay in the Fridge Before Cooking?

Lobster has long been a favorite delicacy from the sea. Awash in melted butter and served with a baked potato, french fries, or maybe even a side of steamed clams, it's a meal to be savored. As luxurious a dish as it seems, you can cook your own lobster at home. Follow some simple safety guidelines to be sure the lobster is the freshest it can be.

If a live lobster is kept in a tank, it stays fresh, as natural living conditions are replicated well within the tank. The life expectancy of a hard-shell lobster is between 24 and 36 hours out of the water. Soft-shell lobsters last only two to four hours once removed from the ocean or tank.

But how long can the lobster safely stay in the refrigerator before cooking it? Not long. According to local fishermen in the Portsmouth, New Hampshire region, the sooner you cook the lobster the better. This is both for food safety and so you consume the lobster at its peak of freshness. The general rule of thumb is to cook lobsters the day you purchase them, and to make sure you're getting them either straight from the ocean or from a lobster tank at a reputable market.