02 Oct How To Select, Store and Clean Fresh Mussels and Clams

Cooking Tips

How To Select, Store and Clean Fresh Mussels and Clams

2 October 2020

PREP. TIME: 5 min  

Cleaning fresh mussels and clams is the most laborious part of their preparation. Generally though, the more you pay for them - the cleaner they are and the less work you have!

Recipe Template


A large sink or basin or bowl to soak and wash the mussels or clams in

A small paring knife to scrape off bits from the shell.

A clean bowl to place the cleaned mussels and clams into

A clean tea towel


Step 1 - Purchasing

Select small, black, shiny mussels that are tightly shut.

For clams - the smaller clams tend to be the tastiest. Large clams can be quite tough.

As for mussels - any open clams should close when  you tap them.

Allow about 500g fresh mussels and 200 - 350g fresh clams per person for a main meal

Step 2 -Storage

As soon as you get into the kitchen - put the mussels or clams into a bowl of cold water.

If they are not being used until the next day, salt the water generously and cover the bowl with a clean tea towel.

Keep in a cool place - in hot weather or for anything more than 2 hours - this should be the refrigerator.

Step 3 - Cleaning

The mussels and clams should smell beautifully fresh.

Do not clean them until you are ready to use them as the cleaning process will often kill them.

Start by discarding all with a broken shell or shells that are gaping open and do not close when tapped.

Discard heavy shells - as they are probably full of mud or sand.

Pull the beard off the mussels using your fingers.

With a small knife scrape off any barnacles, slime or seaweed from the shells.

If necessary, rub the shells together and wash them in several changes of water until the water is clear of grit.

Keep them in the cold water throughout the cleaning process.

Drain and set aside in a covered bowl until ready to cook.



Elizabeth David, French Provincial Cooking, Adapted by Elizabeth Peddey

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