These shellfish are best kept alive by placing them in an open container in a refrigerator and covering them with a clean wet towel to prevent them from drying out. Do not keep them in a bucket of sea water, in plastic bags or other air tight containers.
For best shelf life, do not de-beard Mediterranean mussels until just before you cook them.
If your mussels arrive with several of their shells open (or you find many of them are open when you get ready to cook them), do not despair. Contrary to popular belief, they may not be dead, just thirsty.
Briefly rinse (do not soak) all open mussels in cold tap water. They should begin to close. If they don’t, try pinching the shells closed. If they remain that way after you let go, the mussel is still alive and can be safely eaten. If not, discard.
Manila Clams & Mediterranean Mussels: Up to three days.
Oysters: The sooner live oysters are consumed, the fresher they will be (especially when you plan on eating them raw). Depending on whether you’re eating them raw or cooked, they should remain fresh (when properly stored) for 5-7 days. If they start smelling fishy or if they are open, throw them out.
Sort mussels prior to cooking, removing any with shells that are broken or not closed tight. Test any open shelled mussels for signs of life by briefly rinsing them in cold tap water. They should begin to close. If they don’t, try pinching the shells closed. If they remain that way after you let go, the mussel is still alive and can be safely eaten. If not, discard them along with all broken-shelled mussels.
Just prior to cooking, pull off the mussels’ “beards”.
Mussels are often steamed until they open. Mediterranean mussels can actually open before they’re fully cooked. This makes them a great choice for dishes where you want to first steam the mussels open, then continue to cook them using other methods. However, if you simply want to steam them until they’re done, continue to cook them until their meat starts to visibly contract.
Mussel meat can also be breaded & deep fried, broiled, sautéed, baked, braised, stir-fried or smoked.
How to Steam Mussels
Note: It doesn’t happen often, but Mediterranean mussels can actually get glued shut while cooking (this is particularly likely to happen when they’re submerged in liquids) due to a substance on their shells that resists barnacle growth.
If the other mussels in the pot have opened and their meat is cooked, it’s safe to assume closed mussels are cooked as well. Pry them open with tongs, a knife, or fork and enjoy!
Discard any clams that aren’t tightly closed or do not close when tapped. Before cooking or serving raw, rinse them under running water and, if necessary, scrub them with a stiff brush. You do not need to purge these clams.
Manila clams can be served raw (like oysters) or cooked. They can be steamed in the shell, opened before cooking and baked on the half-shell, or have their meat removed for use in sautés, stir-fries, soups & stews. Pre-cooked clam meat is a tasty addition to salads.
How to Steam Clams
How to Open Raw Clams
Live oysters are surprisingly easy to open with an oyster knife and the proper technique:
How to Open an Oyster Online Tutorial
How to Open an Oyster (Printable PDF)
Visit our oyster recipes collection for mignonette sauce recipes, grilling techniques, a baked oyster recipe and more!