When your lobster smells like ammonia, you may be wondering – does it mean it’s gone bad?
Or is this ammonia smell completely fine and not indicative of any issues?’
Whether you have a store-bought lobster or one that you’ve caught yourself, you may be confused as to why there is a strong or faint ammonia smell to it.
Find out what’s causing the ammonia smell and whether it is still safe to eat or not. Then, you can ease your worries and be well-informed on what to do with lobster that has this strange odor. Let’s get started.
Why Lobster Smells Like Ammonia
Perhaps you have just bought lobster at the store and are ready to cook it. But then again, you notice an ammonia smell to it, causing you to question its safety for consumption.
Has it gone bad or is this smell only normal for lobsters?
First of all, lobsters have a highly sensitive meat. What this means is that it can go bad quickly once this crustacean has already died. Thus, spoiled lobster emits a nasty ammonia smell, accompanied by a soft meat consistency similar to cottage cheese’s texture.
In other words, lobster smells like ammonia once it is spoiled. This is why it is best to just toss it instead of risking some health concerns from eating it.
The ammonia smell is due to the breaking down of the sensitive meat. There are also bacteria present in the meat at this point, which can harm your body when consumed.
Additional Facts About Lobster Smelling Like Ammonia
While an ammonia smell indicates spoilage in your lobster, it can also mean something else.
For instance, the smell may still be present although not obvious with frozen lobster. When you freeze lobster, there is still a faint ammonia smell to it. However, this smell disappears completely once you have thawed the meat.
Hence, the only way to actually know that the lobster is already spoiled is once you have finished cooking or when you have just started it.
With this in mind, it is best to thaw frozen lobster first. This helps you to determine if spoilage has already occurred. When the ammonia smell is present immediately after bringing the meat to room temperature, then it is spoiled. But if it is very faint, then it should still be fine to eat it.
It is also worth noting that in addition to the ammonia smell, there are other signs of the lobster going bad. For instance, the texture is already different. Instead of nice and tender, the meat is already quite soft and tends to crumble easily.
But don’t be confused about the iodine-like flavor and smell of cooked lobster. This is completely normal and not an issue at all.
However, it is different with ammonia smell since it means the lobster is already unsafe to consume.
Now, since we’re on the topic of lobsters and determining its safety to eat, let’s talk about shrimp as they are both from the crustacean family.
If you are wondering about how to tell if shrimp is bad, you may want to check for certain signs of spoilage.
Typically, raw shrimp should not have a strong odor. The smell is similar to something salty instead of strong like bleach or ammonia.
When you touch raw shrimp, it should be firm. Mushy shrimp with broken shells means it’s already spoiled. You should also toss it when the texture has gone from firm to slimy. Be sure to wash your hands well if you have accidentally touched mushy and soggy shrimp.
Next, check for the color. If the shell is colorless or close to a pinkish hue, then it is just what you want. On the other hand, black spots located on the shell or tail is a sign of deterioration happening inside.
White patches could be indicative of a freezer burn, which is still okay. While the taste may not be perfect, it is still safe to consume.
Moreover, the head should be intact. The eyes are moist and glossy instead of shrunken or dry. If it is the latter, it is a sign of aging and the shrimp is going bad already.
Generally, raw shrimp that’s been unshelled should be good for one to two days when stored in the refrigerator. But if you keep the shell on, it can last for up to three days.
Cooking the shrimp can help it to last even longer. You should still be good to consume it after four days. Just be sure to store it in a sealed and airtight container to prolong freshness in the fridge.
Final Thoughts On Lobster That Smells Like Ammonia
As we have discussed, a strong ammonia smell in lobster is indicative of it going bad. The stronger the odor, the more unsafe it is to eat.
This is why it is important to know how to store live lobsters properly to prevent spoilage. You should keep it alive by storing it correctly in the fridge or cooler.
Boiling them while still alive is also a good practice. This helps to prevent the meat from decomposing while retaining the good quality and flavor.
Lastly, make sure that you don’t keep live lobster at room temperature. Instead, clean and cook it once it has died. Never leave it sitting at the counter for an hour, or it will go bad quickly and is already harmful to your body when consumed.
However, if you want to make it last longer, it is ideal to cook the lobster first before storing in the fridge. In this case, it should still be good to eat after three to four days. Then, you would not have to worry about the ammonia smell or harm to your health.