I love mussels!
But to make them at home, you have to know how to clean them.
First you have to start by purchasing fresh mussels.
There should be a tag on every bag of mussels you buy.
There are two dates on the bag, the Harvest Date and the Wet Storage Harvest Date.
The Harvest Date is the date they were taken from where they were grown. The Wet Storage Harvest Date is the date they were removed from the filtered seawater tanks they were stored in to be shipped to your fish monger.
Ideally you should prepare them, 2 - 3 days past the Wet Storage Storage Harvest Date. But as long as they've been moist and cold, you're good up to 10 days past that date.
When I get them home, I open the bag and rinse them in cold water.
Then I pour them into a large bowl, and cover them with ice and place them in the fridge until I'm ready to make them. I always buy them the day I plan to prepare them.
When you're transferring them to the bowl, check for any broken shells and throw those mussels away.
It's a little hard to see in the pic.. but there's a big crack in this one.
Another broken one...
Ok... It's later the same day and I'm ready to cook my mussels. Start about an hour ahead of time.
Put the mussels in a big bucket of cold water. I throw some ice in it too.
Let it rest for a while. The mussels will expel sand into the water.
They don't do this quietly. SoulPatch got curious when he heard the gurgly, bubbly, burps coming from the water.
After a little while, remove the mussels from the bucket, dump the water, be sure there is no sand left in the bucket, put in fresh water and a little more ice. Add the mussels back to the fresh water.
By removing the mussels from the bucket, you're not pouring the sand that has settled to the bottom over the mussels.
Repeat until the water is mostly clear.
Ok... mostly clear... now it's time to remove the beards.
The beards are the bristly fibers the mussels use to cling on to whatever it they cling to while they grow.
I usually use needle nose pliers for this, but I couldn't find them, so I just used the regular ones.
Just grab the beard tightly, close to the shell and pull it off.
You should physically touch every mussel. If a mussel is open and doesn't close tightly when you tap it, it's dead. If it's dead it will make you sick. Throw it away. It's normal to have a couple of those per bag.
This one closed up nicely.
Now you should have a nice fresh cleaned batch of mussels ready to use in your favorite recipes!
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