A lobster cracker is a kitchen tool which is designed to help people crack open lobsters. Lobster crackers can also be used on crabs, and some nuts as well. While a lobster cracker is not a vitally necessary kitchen tool in many parts of the world, it can certainly be useful, and if you eat a lot of crustaceans, it can be a worthy investment. Many kitchen supply stores carry lobster crackers, especially in regions of the world where crab and lobster are popular sources of food.
Crustaceans are a popular food source in many areas because they have tender, rich, succulent meat. However, the meat is encased in a hard shell which can be challenging to open, especially near the joints of the legs. To access the meat, people need to be able to crack open the shell and split the joints to pull the food out; a lobster pick can be very helpful for extracting meat, since it is specifically designed to reach into the tight quarters of a crustacean's limb.
The design of a lobster cracker is relatively simple. The kitchen tool consists of two handles mounted on a hinge, with flat ridged portions between the hinge and the handle. To use the lobster cracker, someone inserts a lobster claw or leg into the cracker and brings the handles together to split the shell. The ridged flat section holds the leg steady while pressure is applied so that the leg does not shoot out unexpectedly. Once the shell has been cracked, it is easy to pull away to get at the meat inside.
If a lobster cracker is not available, the flat side of a knife can be used, as long as you are careful. Some people also use small mallets or other flat, heavy kitchen tools. However, a lobster cracker is much more convenient, since it is designed with crustaceans in mind. Lobster crackers are also safer to use than knives and many other kitchen tools. They can also be used on recalcitrant nuts, although they may not be effective for very hard shelled nuts like Brazil nuts.
When picking out a lobster cracker, look for a solidly constructed one which will be easy to clean. Some companies make novelty lobster crackers with ornamental handles which can be fine to use as long as they are well made. Ideally, however, the lobster cracker should be solid, with no glued on handles or breakable pieces, because you will need to exert a fair amount of pressure on the lobster cracker to use it. You may also want to purchase dishwasher safe lobster crackers, as these kitchen tools can get quite messy, and it is nice to be able to throw them in the dishwasher.