Posted by Eric Frasco on February 17, 2004 at 20:22:47:
In Reply to: It's tough to do, but.... posted by seahunt on February 12, 2004 at 08:58:21:
This has been one of my "to do" list items for years. After many unsuccessful attempts, here's some lessons learned:
I've tried shucking the tail, then boiling the carapice (mostly 'cause I can't stand hearing it crawl around for hours until it dies). I've then boiled/broiled the tail and carefully cut the meat out and saved the tail shell, but it never seems to end up the same tint as the carapice, despite all my precautions. Getting all the stuff out of the carapice is difficult, but you may be able to use an ant nest to do the dirty work for you.
I've found a backyard ant-pile that has really helped me strip off dead stuff from scallop shells and other items I've tried to clean. They do a real good job. However, leaving items in the sun can be a problem (uneven discoloring, etc.). Also, neighborhood cats (and stray possums) have chewed up shells and antlers, rendering a perfectly good carpice useless. Also, as the carcass decays, neighbors may complain of the smell. I recommend finding a good ant pile, and then inverting a plastic storage container to cover over the carapice (keeping animals out and smell in). Then weight it down with clay bricks or extra weight belts so that neighborhood critters can't get at the exoskeleton while the ants do their job. A clear one will let light in which can bleach the shell color. A dark container will shut out all light. A translucent one will allow you to see some of what is going on and also can decrease bleaching. Make sure that the antlers and legs are positioned exactly as you want them, as the exoskelton will eventually firm up and get brittle, making it impossible to re-position any appendages. After the shell has dried, it will be extremely brittle, so be careful if you handle it.
Hope that helps.
One other possible variation is to store the lobster in your frost free freezer for six months, the continuous defrosting action will dehydrate the meat and leave a dessicated carcass. The downside to this is that you won't get to eat the tail, which is the real reason you grabbed the bug in the first place.
Either way, once the process is complete, you can impregnate the remaining exoskelton with cotton, epoxy, shellac, etc., whatever it takes to support the exoskelton and seal in the remaining parts of the bug, and eliminate unintentional malodorous residues as well.
Whatever method you employ, please have consideration for the lobster and make sure that it perishes as quickly and painlessly as possible. Preserving the exoskelton of the crustacean should not require it to be subjected to an agonizing death.
Good luck. Let us know what you did and how it worked.
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