Lobsters have a distinctively different look when they are alive compared to when they are cooked. While alive and in the ocean or your nearest supermarket, lobsters tend to have a darker and more muted color palette than other sea-dwelling creatures. However, once the lobster has been cooked and you see it on your seafood roll, the colors change and become the iconic lobster red that everyone associates with the delicacy. What about the cooking process causes this color change? Or is it something within the lobster itself that elicits the change? 

What Determines the Color of a Live Lobster?

Like with people, the coloring of lobsters comes from their genetics and their long-term exposure to the sun, as well as a specific pigment called astaxanthin. This particular pigment absorbs blue light at an incredible rate, and when certain conditions are met, the shell turns that distinctive bright red. Lobsters have membranes that securely contain the pigment while they’re alive. Due to North Atlantic lobsters being so far from the equator, their coloring tends to lean towards browns, grays, and blue hues. The further south you go, the wider the variety of colors lobsters can produce. 

What Causes the Pigment to Release?

Among the most common triggers for lobsters releasing the astaxanthin pigment is exposure to high heat, which naturally occurs during the cooking process. If you decide to boil your lobsters in water, the body chemistry of the lobster changes as soon as they hit the water. Astaxanthin releases from the storage membranes and begins to filter itself through the body of the crustacean. As the pigment disperses throughout the body, that iconic ruby red color starts to assert itself. 

Can Lobsters Come in Other Colors?

In rare cases, lobsters can come cooked in a color other than red. Albino lobsters are a rare variety of lobster that does not contain any astaxanthin at all. These lobsters appear as a grayish-white color in the wild AND after they get cooked. Additionally, rare blue lobsters can be found in the ocean. Normally, fishermen will throw these lobsters back into the ocean since they are considered a sign of luck and good fortune. 

At La La Lobster, we serve the freshest lobster available, giving you that delicious red goodness that you’ve been daydreaming about on a lobster roll platter, in your mac and cheese, or even in a taco! Place your online order today and come taste this delicacy for yourself!