Clams are a popular summertime feast that many like to enjoy at a backyard barbeque. There is an abundance of ways to enjoy these tasty mollusks, from steamed clams to clams casino! They provide a firm texture and rich meat with a sweet to slightly salty flavor. They are extra lean.
Here are a few suggestions we have:
Now, let’s dive into how they are harvested. Some clams are wild-caught, but farmed clamming is a growing industry. Clam farmers plant pea-sized seed clams on the ocean bottom under nets or mesh bags to protect them from predators (blue crabs, stone crabs, and other animals). In Florida’s warm waters, clams grow quickly. Farmers monitor the clams for 12 to 18 months until they reach market size.
According to the FL Dept of Agriculture and Consumer Services, wild hard clam fishermen and some farmers use a “jerk rake” to harvest clams. A rake-like head on the end of a long steel pole is manually dragged or jerked across the bottom to pull the clams up and out of the sediments. The clams are then graded and marketed by the depth of the shell at the hinge side, or they are shucked and the meats canned.
Clams can’t tolerate bacteriological or industrial pollution, so successful clam farming requires excellent water quality. And clam farming itself improves water quality — because clams are filter feeders and continually remove algae and nutrients from the water.
Clam farmers don’t use chemicals, antibiotics, feeds, or other inputs, so clam farming is a clean industry. And as an added benefit, mesh clam bags even act as artificial reefs, providing habitat for billions of marine organisms.
Are there environmental effects of clam farming? Clam farming has a little negative impact on the environment but plenty of positive effects on local economies. The industry provides hundreds of jobs for residents of coastal communities. Secondary industries, such as the construction of aquaculture nurseries and the manufacture of clamming equipment, spring up in the wake of new clam farms.
How should I select and handle clam? When shopping for live clams, make sure the shells are free of cracks. Your nose will tell you if the clams are fresh. Live clams should have a mild sea-breeze aroma.
Clams should never be exposed to sudden temperature changes. When storing live clams, do not place them directly on ice or immerse them in water. Store live clams at a constant 41 degrees F in the refrigerator in a container with the lid slightly open. They will remain alive for up to seven days. Drain excess liquid daily. Live clams should close tightly when the shell is tapped. Discard clams that do not close. Shucked clams will keep for up to seven days in the refrigerator.
Popular Clam Sizes
Cherrystone: 3-4 per pound with a 2-inch hinge
Topneck: 5-7 per pound with 1 1/2-inch hinge
Choiceneck: 7-9 per pound with 1 1/4-inch hinge
Littleneck: 10-13 per pound with 1-inch hinge
Shop a few of our clam selections here:
How do I cook clams? Before cooking, rinse live clams thoroughly under running water. Clams are thoroughly cooked when their shells open, and the meat turns plump and opaque. Lean, firm-textured clams are low in fat, cholesterol, and sodium. They provide calcium and iron and are an excellent source of protein.
Cheers to the upcoming summer season of backyard barbeques! We hope you’ll include clams on your menu!