How to Buy and Clean Mussels

Two Methods:Buying MusselsCleaning Mussels

Knowing tips on how to buy and clean mussels will empower you to make the best decisions concerning the food you eat and help ensure an enjoyable seafood meal. Though simple to cook, just steam them for a couple minutes, if you know a little bit about gathering and preparing mussels, you will have the capability of creating an impressively elegant main course with very little effort.

Method 1
Buying Mussels

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    Choose to purchase mussels that are alive. Pick mussels that have securely closed shells. Bypass mussels that have their shells open and that will not close. An open shell itself does not mean the mussel is automatically bad. Mussels left undisturbed will open their shells slightly. If a shell is open, tap it. If the mussel closes the shell, it is still alive. If the mussel does not close its shell, discard it.
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    Select mussels that are fresh. The shells of the mussels should be damp and shiny. They should smell like the ocean.
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    Do not pick out mussels that have broken, cracked or split shells.
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    Avoid mussels that have unexpected weight proportions. Pass on mussels that seem too heavy or too light when you pick them up.

Method 2
Cleaning Mussels

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    Wait to clean mussels until you are about ready to eat them. As with all seafood, the meat is fresher if you can prepare and eat it right away. If you will be waiting several days to prepare your mussels, store them in the refrigerator and keep them damp either with wet newspaper around them or a damp cloth. Since mussels are living, storing them in a plastic container or plastic bag will suffocate them. Mussels will stay alive longer if you wait to clean them until you are ready to use them.
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    Get rid of barnacles on wild mussels. Use a small, stiff brush and water to scrub the mussels' shells and remove barnacles and stuck-on seaweed.
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    Clean the outside of the mussels. Place your mussels in a colander or on a tray. Rinse the mussels several times with a steady flow of fresh water. This will remove any dirt and sand from the mussels. Do not submerge the mussels in water or soak them as this will kill the mussels.
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    Remove the beards. Some mussels, mostly the cultivated ones, will have their beards already removed when you purchase them. However, if the beard is still in tact, as will be with wild mussels, you will need to remove the beard. To remove a beard from a mussel, grab hold of the beard, a brown, stringy tuft coming out from between the two shells, and give it a firm pull. The beard may come off during this process. If not, use a sharp knife or scissors to cut the beard away from the shell.

Things You'll Need

  • Mussels
  • Sharp knife
  • Colander
  • Water

Article Info

Categories: Fish and Seafood