Are you thinking of eating clams? It is possible that you have exhausted your food while camping or just testing your survival skills to prepare for any eventualities. Well, you’re in the right place for clues on clam consumption.
By the way, claims are a breeze to find and catch. So they may be a wise choice when in search of food in a dire situation. But many people may not fancy the idea of eating camps. Besides, clam consumption isn’t so popular in this part of the world.
Now, here’s the question.
Can you eat freshwater clams?
Yes, you can consume clams. But keep in mind that clams don’t taste that good and are chewy.
Again, most people don’t fancy eating clams for several reasons, even though clams are considered edible. And one of those reasons is that clams are filter feeders.
How does this make eating clams a huge health risk? As filter feeders, clams ingest and filter the surrounding water searching for foods. During this process, they end up filtering toxins and pollutants.
Let’s discuss more on clams’ consumption.
Understanding What Clams Are
Clams are quite popular and boast over 15000 species. The word “clam” is used when describing clams considered edible.
Clams can live in the ocean or freshwater. They are part of the phylum Mollusca, considered the world’s second-biggest group of animals.
Again, clams are invertebrates, which are animals without backbones. You may find them in freshwater and even ocean sand, as they are common in these areas.
However, it would also interest you to know that some clams can burrow into woods and rocks.
What Freshwater Clams Eat
Clams are edible. But, as mentioned before, the reason most people don’t fancy eating them is their feeding pattern.
How freshwater clams feed makes consuming them a huge risk for anyone. Now, how do claims feed, and what do they consume?
Well, claims are filter feeders. Their gills boast cilia (tiny hair-like structures) used to suck water via a siphon (a long tube). The gills then filter the water, trapping tiny organisms which clams eat.
Feeding on tiny organisms isn’t why clams are a serious risk for people interested in consuming them. Instead, these creatures tend to use their gills to trap toxins and pollutants, which pose a huge health risk.
So you could get sick from eating clams if you’re not careful. But keep in mind that not all clams pose a threat.
You can also take certain precautions to ensure clams consumed won’t pose any health risk. We’ll dive into that shortly.
5 Things To Consider When Harvesting Freshwater Clams For Eating
Freshwater clams are edible, but that shouldn’t be a reason to neglect important safety precautions when harvesting them. Not all clams are worth eating anyway. Even species considered edible may not be edible because of several factors, such as where they are harvested from, etc.
Now, let’s discuss factors to pay close attention to when harvesting clams.
1. What is the water quality like?
How is the water quality where you harvested your clams? Is it good or bad?
Please, don’t take any chances. If the water quality is good, your clams may not pose any serious health risks and you can comfortably eat them. Good quality water should be clean and clear. It should also be moving.
Bad quality water is the direct opposite. Such water may appear unclear, dirty, stagnant, and riddled with pollutants.
When you consider the way that clams normally feed, you’ll understand why you should avoid eating clams found in bad quality water. They may look fresh and edible, but there’s a chance that there are toxins and pollutants packed in them.
A Handy Tip: Please, only consume clams harvested from clear rivers, lakes, and streams. Base your judgment on water quality, not the appearance of the clams.
2. Age of the clams:
Age is a crucial factor to consider when harvesting clams. Avoid older or aged clams, as they may contain more pollutants or toxins than the younger and fresh ones.
So, choose younger and fresher clams. Why? Even if they contain pollutants, it won’t be that much.
But please, don’t neglect the warning about water quality. Even if the clams are young and fresh, avoid them if found in bad quality water.
A Handy Tip: Young and fresh clams taste better than old ones.
3. Condition of the clams:
Are the clams alive or dead when harvested? Or did they die after you harvested them? Thus is another crucial factor to consider when harvesting clams for consumption.
Dead clams aren’t safe for consumption, so avoid them. Firstly, you don’t know when they died or what killed them. Then secondly, the dead clams may contain a huge amount of bacteria.
4. Local laws on clam consumption:
Many animal species have been marked endangered, and some have made it to the protected list. And there are fines for consuming such animals. It doesn’t matter whether you’re aware of such laws or not.
Clams are considered endangered species in certain parts of the United States. Therefore, you may be fined when you consume clams in such states or cities.
So study the local laws regarding clams consumption, and ask questions if you are not familiar with the area’s laws regarding clams consumption.
5. Understand the rules on clams consumption:
There are certain amounts of clams you can grab and consume in some places. So, don’t start harvesting clams for eating. Learn about the laws in the area you are to know the quota or amount of clams you can eat at a time.
How To Get Clams Prepared For Cooking
Clams need special preparation before cooking them. You have to do things like purging and thorough cleaning.
The reason for this preparation is to make the clam healthy for consumption. So, let’s discuss how to get your clams prepared for cooking.
Start with Purging:
What is purging, and how is it done? Purging means getting rid of foreign bodies stuck in the clams. These include sand, silt, and other particles.
Now, how do you purge clams? Just put the clams you want to cook in a bowl or pot of clean water for 30 to 60 minutes. The silt, sand, or any foreign body in the clams will fall off as they open up.
After purging, remember to rinse the clams thoroughly. And if you notice that the debris from the clams was much, consider repeating the purging process.
It’s time for cleaning:
After purging, cleaning should be the next step to prepare your clams for eating. So, how do you clean clams?
It’s simple. Use a clean cloth or scrub brush to remove any debris on the external area of the clam.
Remove dead clams:
You may have a few dead clams in the bowl or pot. So focus on getting rid of the dead clams before you start cooking. Avoid mixing dead clams with fresh ones.
How can you detect dead clams? Use the tips below.
- Broken shells
- Holes in the shells
- Clams are floating
- Shells sealed shut tightly
Another way to know if your clams are alive is tapping their shells. If the clams move when you tap the shells, they’re still alive.
The clams may likely be dead if they don’t move or respond when you tap their shells.
Can you eat freshwater clams? Yes, you can. Clams are edible. But you must understand that certain factors can make eating clams a big health risk.
These factors include the water quality where the clams got picked and the condition of the clams. Were they dead or alive?
Avoid eating dead clams. Why? They may contain a bunch of bacteria and other toxins. Besides, you don’t even know the cause of their death.
We also discussed how to get clams prepared for cooking. You can check out the details in this post and follow the tips to prepare your clams for cooking.