fresh clams on ice in a paper bag
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How to Clean Fresh Clams

Learn how to purge clams of sand and grit before cooking.
Keyword fresh clams, how to clean clams
Prep Time 10 minutes
Soaking Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Author Amanda Biddle
Cost $15.00

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 2-3 pounds fresh clams
  • 1-3 gallons cold water (45-48 degrees F), divided
  • 1/3 to 1 cup non-iodized sea salt or kosher salt , divided

Instructions

  • Inspect clams. Discard any that with chipped or cracked shells.
  • If using hard shell clams, check to make sure that they're tightly closed. Gently tap any open clams on the counter and see if they close. If they remain open, discard.
  • If using soft shell clams (which won't fully close), tap or touch the side of the shell and/or siphon to check for movement. If the clam doesn't respond to the stimulus, it has perished and should be discarded.
  • Scrub clams under cold running water with a stiff brush to remove debris. If needed, use the tip of a paring knife to scrape off any barnacles.
  • In a large bowl or tub, combine 1 gallon of cold water with 1/3 cup of salt. Stir until salt is dissolved. Add clams, refrigerate, and let soak for 20-30 minutes. (The water should cover the clams by at least 1-1/2 inches). Discard any clams that float.
  • Lift clams from the bowl with a slotted spoon or your hands and discard water. If there is no sediment at the bottom of the bowl, the clams are ready to cook (common with cultivated and pre-purged hard shell varieties).
  • If there is sand/grit in the bowl, rinse and repeat the soaking process 1-2 more times (or more), depending on clam variety and how much sand the clams contain. Use 1 gallon of water and 1/3 cup salt each time, soaking for 20-30 minutes.
  • Place purged clams in a colander and rinse well with cool water. Cook clams as desired.

Notes

*If you want to add cornmeal to your soak (see blog post above), add about 1/4 cup medium-grind for every gallon of water.