Clams have been around for more than 400 million years and have changed little biologically in that time.
There’s evidence showing that even dinosaurs ate them.
And millions of years later, we are still enjoying the taste of the salty ocean as experienced through the feasting on luscious clams.
Clams bury themselves in sand or sediment, which influences the taste and color of these mollusks. The hard-shelled clams we sell in our markets are able to withstand higher water salinity than their weaker soft shell cousins. Our clams are found in tidal areas along the coast and can even be found in depths of sixty feet.
Besides tasting great, they are an excellent source of nutrition with an above average number of healthy minerals like: Selenium, Zinc, Iron, Magnesium, Iodine and B vitamins. Clams are the perfect diet food as they are high in protein and low in fat.
When storing clams, be sure they are clean and free of gritty sand. Keep them in the coldest part of the refrigerator, but do not put ice directly on the clams. If you want to ice the clams, put a bag of ice over them and check periodically to make sure the ice isn’t melting through the bag.
Clams must be alive before cooking. Discard any that do not snap closed when tapped, and after cooking, discard those that do not open.
Clams found along our coast are named according to size. We have the Littlenecks, Middlenecks and Topnecks. In general, the smaller the diameter of the clam, the younger, more tender and sweeter tasting they will be.
That should not make you run for only the small clams because the middle and larger sizes are also succulent, juicy and flavorful.
Clams can be prepared using virtually all cooking methods. Try them baked, boiled, steamed, fried, sautéed or baked.
Clams are a steady staple in our local seafood economy and sometimes it’s easy to take them for granted. Don’t do it. Make clams a permanent part of your weekly diet – for your health and your pocketbook.