Choosing and Handling Molluscs

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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Unless they’ve already been removed from their shell, fresh bivalves should be alive and healthy: otherwise they are likely to have begun spoiling. A healthy bivalve has an intact shell, and its adductor muscle is active and holds the shells tightly together, especially when sharply tapped. Molluscs keep best on ice covered with a damp cloth, and should not be allowed to sit in a puddle of meltwater, which is saltless and therefore fatal to sea creatures. Clams and relatives often benefit from several hours’ immersion in a bucket of cold salt water (⅓ cup salt per gallon, or 20 gm/l) to clean themselves of residual sand and grit.