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Why lobster shells turn red during cooking?

The condition doesn’t harm humans, but decreases the commercial value of lobsters by disfiguring the crustaceans’ shells

With lobster shell disease moving up the East Coast toward Maine — now observing Maine Lobster Month — a new research from the world’s largest scientific society focuses on the disease, the chemistry of lobster shell color and why lobster shells turn red during cooking.

In the research, Michael Tlusty, Ph.D., director of research at the New England Aquarium, describes how his lab grows different colored lobsters in an effort to understand shell disease. The condition doesn’t harm humans, but decreases the commercial value of lobsters by disfiguring the crustaceans’ shells. Caused by bacteria, the disease appeared in southern New England waters in the 1990s.

Tlusty also explains the dramatic color change — from muddy brown to bright red — in lobster shells during cooking. Lobster shells have a red pigment, astaxanthin, obscured during life by yellow and blue pigments. Cooking breaks down the yellow and brown pigments, leaving astaxanthin, which is heat-resistant.

by S. C.
02 september 2013, Food & Fun > Gastronomy

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