Although many people would argue that clams cultivated by modern farmers do not need to be cleaned, I simply don’t agree with that. Always be wary about where you buy your shellfish from, as cleanliness can vary from one seller to another
As a rule, the clams that we buy are already cleaned with water, but they could still contain some remaining sand and dirt. If one does not take precautions to get rid of these little intrusions, it could mean a ruined dish (at least it would for me). It takes only one speck of grit grating on the teeth and that’s it… catastrophe!
To be honest, this is exactly why I order shellfish and clams cautiously in restaurants, and at home I never set cleaning process aside. And neither should you because it’s actually so easy!
However, before you start, you should know how to properly choose clams, as we certainly don’t want to eat dead shellfish.
How to choose clams
The clams should be alive at the moment of cooking, as it might be dangerous to eat them otherwise.
Let’s be honest: there’s no way that someone would let you mess around with clams while in the shop and examine them closely. That’s why I advise you to pay attention to a few key points while at home:
- when you clean your clams and they start hitting each other, you should hear a pleasant and “heavy” sound, a little bit like marbles. If you hear an empty sound instead, that means that your clams are dead or close to being dead.
- throw away those clams with broken shells (split or cracked)
- throw away any opened clams that don’t close down while pressing
- after cooking, throw away any clams that did not open up at all
When we’ve sorted all the clams out, it’s time to clean them.
How to purge the clams
First wash them thoroughly, changing the water frequently in order to remove any grit and sand on the shells.
Then, mix ½ cup of sea salt into a big bowl of cold water and place clams in the bowl. Leave them to purge for 30 minutes or 1 hour.
After the clams have been in the water for some time, you will see and hear how they spill out the sand. If there is a lot of sand coming out you can change the water and purge them a bit longer. However, if your clams are sitting quietly, it probably means that they are clean inside.
Finally, scoop the clams out of the bowl and wash them briefly one last time.
How to store them
Before you get started with any cleaning, put the clams in a container (without water) and cover with a damp towel. Keep in the bottom section of your fridge, but keep in mind that they do not last for long.