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From "Coast Living" Magazine

 Cooking and Food Information Index


Mussels  Elongated, narrow shells distinguish mussels from other edible bivalves. Many varieties grow worldwide, but blue and green mussels most commonly appear in local markets. Identified by their inky, blue-black shells, blue mussels grow wild or are farmed in cold Atlantic and Pacific waters, while jade-color "greenshells" come from New Zealand. All varieties offer a good source of protein, calcium, magnesium, and selenium.


  • Mussels are sold live, either loose or in bags packaged by growers.
  • Store mussels in the perforated bag they came in or in an open container covered only with damp paper towels. (Mussels will suffocate if covered in fresh water.) Stored properly in the refrigerator, they keep about one week.
  • Recently (January 2013) I purchased frozen New Zealand Green Mussels, thawed them (make sure you set the box in a bowl to catch the drippings) in the refrigerator, and prepared them similar to oyster Rockefeller and they were delicious, even warmed up the next day.  Preparation instructions were on the box.


  • Before cooking, scrub mussel shells to remove the beard (fibrous threads) and any mud. Cultivated mussels are generally very clean and may not have any beard to remove.
  • Squeeze the shells of any mussel that feels particularly heavy, and try to slide the two halves back and forth. If you see mud oozing out, discard the mussel.
  • Mussels must be alive before cooking (unless frozen, see above). After rinsing, their shells should be tightly closed. Do not prepare any that are open or have shells with holes or broken pieces.


  • The simplest way to cook mussels is to steam them in white wine or broth and herbs. Bring about one inch of liquid to a boil, add the mussels, and then cover the pot tightly. In three to five minutes, the mussels will be done.  Finely chopped sweet onions and/or fresh garlic can be sautéed in butter in the pan first for added flavor.


  • Remove the meat from the shells with a small fork. Or use an empty mussel shell as tongs to pluck the meat away from the rest.
  • Cooked mussel meat appears either orange-pink (females) or beige (males). There is no difference in flavor.
  • Serve mussels with their cooking broth -- and with bread for sopping the flavorful liquid at the bottom of the bowl.


Modified by Art Guyer

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Cooking and Food Information Index

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