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Never select clams that are chipped, broken, or damaged in any way. Never choose a clam that is open. Clams should be tightly closed and stored in a cool area where they can breathe. When you are buying clams, immediately unwrap them at home so they can breathe, otherwise they may die before you cook them.
Just before cooking, soak the clams for twenty minutes in fresh water. As the clams breathe, they filter water. When the fresh water is filtered, the clam pushes salt water and sand out of their shells. After twenty minutes, the clams will have cleaned themselves of a lot of the salt and sand they have collected. Pull the clams up and out of the water. Do not pour the clams and water into a straining device because the expelled sand has sunk to the bottom of the bowl. Pouring the clams and water into a straining device would cause you to pour the sand back over the clams.
Once the clams have been soaked, use a firm brush and scrub off any additional sand, barnacles, or other oceanic attachments. This is the same final method used when cleaning mussels.
There are two types of mussels. Blue mussels are edible and is what you generally find at seafood markets and restaurants. Ribbed Mussels are not recommended for eating; their taste is somewhat bitter for most people.
Mussels and clams in the shell (live) should be used within two to three days. Some shells may open during storage. If so, tap them. They will close if alive. If not, discard immediately.
Store live mussels in a single layer on a tray covered with a damp cloth for up to 2 days. Shucked mussels may be stored in their liquor in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.
Ounce for ounce, fresh mussel meat has about the same amount of protein as beef steak, must less fat, 25% less calories and many more mineral nutrients.
People with HIV, AIDS, liver diseases, hepatitus should never eat raw mussles, raw clams or raw oysters. Eating raw oysters, clams and mussels is very risky because viruses, bacteria and other parasites may be present in these shellfish.
Most mussels sold today are farmed and come fully cleaned. Mussels only need to be washed and bearded. To beard, use fingers to pull out the clump of hair- like strands.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|