If you are looking to chomp down on some lobster in July or August on Mount Desert Island or in Downeast Maine in general this summer you might be confronted with a lobster choice that you may not have experience before - hard or soft?
For those "from away" lobster is lobster. But here close to the source of the lobster's watery home you have two "types" of lobster - hard shell or soft shell. Or I've seen it called "Tender New Shell" or as the locals call them "shedders". You see in order for a lobster to grow they have to shed their old skin and grow a new one. The hard shelled lobsters travel better than soft shell lobsters so they are the ones that get sent around the world. Soft shells typically are only sold locally.
So which one is better? Its a matter of preference. Hard shell lobsters typically cost more per pound because the meat is packed into the shell tight so you are not buying a lot of water. The shells are tough so you need to use crackers. Soft shells on the other hand are suppose to be sweeter than hard shells, cost less per pound and can usually be cracked open by hand.
The only down side I've experienced with "shedders" is the meat in the tip of the claws sometimes is a bit mushy. But like I said, its a matter of preference. A lobsterman friend of mine loves this mushy part. Its his favorite part of the lobster.
If your planning on gorging yourself on lobster you might consider the soft shells because you can rip into them fast. Besides locally on the MDI in the peak of summer shedders might be the only type of lobster you can find. The hard shells get harder to find and get shipped away.