A taste test using a new method for preparing lobster for shipping did not go very well for the new product last week.
The P.E.I. government is interested in a new process developed in Ireland that pasteurizes whole, cooked lobster. The process extends the shelf life of a whole cooked lobster from 72 hours to 32 days.
Fisheries Minister Ron MacKinley sees the process as an opportunity to grow the market for P.E.I. lobster.
"We're in to China big this time and we're into India, but yet there's a whole market in western Canada there that we really haven't tapped into," said MacKinley.
But it's important that the process result in a quality product landing on the plates of diners. MacKinley sent 13 kilograms of cooked P.E.I. lobster to Ireland to be pasteurized. The lobster was then returned to the Island, and served up in a taste test.
MacKinley and five other judges, including other government officials and industry representatives, sat down to four different samples of lobster in a blind taste test at Charlottetown's Culinary Institute of Canada. The test included fresh cooked and frozen lobster, and all were served plain.
The pasteurized sample came in last. In fact, servers told the tasters they didn't have to try the pasteurized lobster, because it had a strong smell.
"Little different texture, and not quite the meatiness," said Ian MacPherson, head of the P.E.I. Fisherman's Association.
That's not the end of the idea of pasteurizing lobster, however. The head chef at the Culinary Institute said the sample was at the end of its shelf life, and there were complications in transportation and packaging the sample.
MacPherson believes it is worth giving pasteurized lobster another chance.
"All in all, I think it's a product that's got a lot of potential," he said.
MacKinley is planning a second tasting. If that goes well, the province will consider buying a lobster-pasteurizing machine, at a cost of $300,000, as a pilot project.