Clams Help Please!

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Master Chef
Sep 4, 2004
Galena, IL
The answer is going to come too late for me this time, but I'd like to know: I can get live clams at my local grocer maybe once or twice a year. How long can I keep them and what is the best way. Understand I live in a very small (3500) town in the midwest. If I see them today and buy them tomorrow, they will be the same clams, it isn't like a jet will be landing daily with fresh ones. It seems to me I could store them as well as the store can.

I bought a dozen little necks and three larger clams (the larger ones to chop into the sauce, the tinier ones to just steam open and toss on top of the pasta). What I did was leave them in the butcher paper the butcher puts them in (our town is small enough that our butcher is also our fish monger), then fill a crisper drawer of my fridge with ice and put the packages on top. I do know how to know they are safe and all that, but am curious as to whether I should have done anything different, for example, take them out of the paper and put them on the ice directly, etc.

Any advice for future adventures appeciated.
They should be fine - I keep 'em on ice for a day or so, too. Just remember to discard any opened ones that won't close up when you tap them, and throw any away that arent' opened after cooking them.

A couple of hours before I'm ready to cook mine, I bring them out and put them in a big bowl of water with lots of salt added. They start huffing and puffing, and a lot of the debris in the shell gets cleaned out. Some folks recommend putting a little corn meal in the water, too, but I've never found this to be any more helpful, and then you have to clean the cornmeal off the shells. Salty water does just fine.
Thanks for the great information marmalady. I've only had clams from a can but would love to have the "real deal" some day.

:) Barbara
You're most welcome, Barb! Perhaps a visit to Charleston is in order! We've got some great clams and oysters right now!
They all lived! A freind who came to dinner and didn't really like seafood scarfed it down. The problem with not living on a coast is that quite often we were raised on truly bad, very "fishy" tasting seafood. I certainly hated it as a child. If you like canned, you will love fresh. I used a steamer basket, but if you don't have one just put an inch of water in a pot and bring to a boil. Clean the clams if necessary. Discard any that are open and will not close when you 'thunk' in with your finger (never buy one that is open, but if one dies in your care, don't eat him). Then put the clams in the pot on the water and cover. After a couple of minutes start checking, and take out each as it opens. This is obviously a procedure if you're steaming clams for one or three people, as I was. If you're doing a real feast, with several dozen, then you steam until they all are open. In my case, I steamed the big clams, then chopped to go in the linguini, then steamed the littlenecks and put on each plate on top of the pasta. They were not sandy at all, but if you dug them yourself, that cleaning part (salt water or cornmeal, I've known people who swear by either) does the trick. Oh, yes. Don't forget to trash any clam that refuses to open when steamed. Shellfish poisoning is no fun at all.

This is so easy and even fun that if I could get them live year 'round I'd never buy a can again.
Yes, I will definitely have to get down to Charleston! I've only been there a couple times (one only for a field trip to Fort Sumter), and my husband is dying to go. Maybe we can go during my Easter break, or next summer.

You are so right, Claire, about fresh being better. The last time we went to Myrtle Beach, we drove up to Calabash, NC and had the first truly fresh shrimp we had ever had. It was SO much better than the frozen shrimp we were used to.

:) Barbara
Barb - When you come to Charleston, be sure to let me know - and bring some big styrofoam coolers to take some of our 'fwesh swimps' home in to freeze!
When I tell people that Charleston folk call them srimps, they think I'm joking! haha! I eat everything everywhere and know the lingo. For those of you who haven't been to Charleston, stop right now and plan a trip. A real jewel of a place, with "low country" cuisine (sort of similar to cajun, but not really) some of the best seafood the country has to offer. It is a truly gorgeous town with great food and lovely people.
A lot of my school kids call them "scrimp." They also say "scrait" (straight), and lots of other interesting things!

:) Barbara
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