“I was in Maine last summer and paid $7 for a lobster”, a customer tells the bartender on a busy Saturday night at The Lobster Trap in Asheville, NC.
Understanding why folks can buy a $7 lobster during the summer in Maine requires a little bit of background on lobster biology. Lobsters grow by shedding their shell, a process known as molting. Typically, around the beginning of July when the water temperatures in Maine start warming up, lobsters migrate to the coast to shed the hard shells they’ve been carrying all winter. Over 75% of the lobsters caught in Maine during the summer are “soft shell” lobsters.
“I can peel open a soft shell lobster with my bare hands”, says The Lobster Trap owner Amy Beard. “The meat is tender, but only a fraction of the size of the shell. Soft shell lobsters are abundant during the summer months and they can’t be shipped so they are at a much lower price point than hard shell lobsters. The lobsters have been late to migrate this year because of the colder water temperatures on the coast but the soft shells should start hitting the market soon.”
Unfortunately, soft shell lobsters are fragile and can’t survive a trip to the mountains of North Carolina. Hard shell lobsters might be harder to come by in Maine during the summer, but the sweet, delicate flavor of hard shell lobsters are always available at The Lobster Trap located in the heart of downtown Asheville, NC.