How to Clean Clams

Amber Bracegirdle | Bluebonnet Baker

Wondering how to clean clams for a delicious seafood supper? We’ve got all the details!

Have you ever gone to a clam bake and found yourself crunching on gritty sand as you tried to eat your seafood?

Eeek! Even a tiny speck of sand feels like gravel when you’re trying to chew.

So, what’s a clams fan supposed to do?

It comes down to cleaning the clams properly.

This editor had a personal lesson from my husband, who grew up in New England. His method works beautifully and is described in this recipe for My Hubby’s Beer-Steamed Littleneck Clams.

Clams and Fennel Photo

How to Clean Clams

  1. Fill a large pot or bowl with cold water and a small handful of salt. Set the pot next to the sink.
  2. Rinse each clam under a light stream of cold water from the faucet while using a brush to scrub off any dirt.
  3. Place the scrubbed clams in the salted water to soak for 15 minutes, which will draw out the sand.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, remove the clams to a colander and drain the water from the pot. Rinse out the pot.
  5. Fill the pot or bowl once more with salted water and soak the clams again for 15 minutes.
  6. Drain and rinse the clams before cooking them.
Clams and Fennel Picture

How do You Know if a Clam is Bad?

The fresh clams you buy should have closed shells and will still be alive. They should not have a fishy odor.

If you see an open clam shell, gently tap it on the counter. If the clam closes, it’s good. If not, throw it away, because the clam is dead and will contain toxins.

Likewise, discard any clams with broken shells.

The clamshells should open during cooking. Discard any clams that remain closed.

Clam Bake Picture

How Long Can You Store Fresh Clams in the Refrigerator?

Refrigerate clams as soon as you bring them home. They need to be uncovered to stay alive, so just keep them in a colander over a dish or arrange them in a single layer on a sheet pan.

Don’t store them in water or plastic, or they’ll die.

The raw clams can stay in the refrigerator for up to two days. Once cooked, store leftover clams in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.

Clam Bake Image

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Clams Recipes

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Amber Bracegirdle

About Amber

Amber is a native Texan, born to a family of fabulous cooks. She shares her love of all things Tex-Mex and Southern both on her blog, Bluebonnet Baker, and here on Food Fanatic. She heavily endorses the use of the contraction "y'all".