Whether you're a novice or a seasoned pro, follow these quick guidelines to eliminate the guesswork.

By Coastal Living
May 21, 2009

Prepping: Before boiling or steaming, put live lobsters in the freezer for about an hour. Cold temperatures sedate them, after which they can be gently placed head-first in boiling water.

Cutting: Many chefs and lobster experts say the best way to dispatch a lobster before grilling is with a knife: Freeze the lobster at least 30 minutes, hold it just above the tail, and place it on a cutting board. Look for the cross-shaped indentation in the shell about 2 inches forward of the tail; place the tip of a large knife at this point, with the cutting edge toward the head. Plunge the knife down vertically, then swing it down to split to the lobster in half.

Storing: Keep lobsters moist with seaweed, wet paper towels, or wet newspaper in a refrigerator or cooler before cooking. Never keep lobsters in freshwater; they can't survive.

Senior Editor Julia Rutland's Tip: "Don't take the rubber bands off the claws before boiling. In a match between two strong claws and your 10 fingers, you'll always lose."