Should You Buy Clams That Are Already Shucked?

As the seasons change and the weather starts to get a little colder, soups come back into fashion. The canned stuff is always great for a quick pick-me-up on a cold afternoon, but nothing beats homemade. If you're a seafood lover, this means buying clams to make some clam chowder. There are many different types of clams out there, but regardless of what kind of you prefer, you're faced with a simple question — do you buy your clams shucked or unshucked?

Shucked clams are just the clam meat that has been removed from the shell without cooking them, per Marx Foods. You can steam clams and other shellfish to cook the inside and to open up the shells, but some recipes will call for raw clams. When it comes to buying time, pre-shucked clams are just as safe as whole ones as long as they're cooked properly, per the Washington State Department of Health. The shucked clams will be suspended in liquid to preserve their freshness and their flavor and work wonderfully for something like clam chowder.

What to look for in your shucked clams

According to Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association, when inspecting your shucked clams, you want to look for plump clam meat that smells and appears fresh. Any sort of off smell, especially if you catch a whiff of something sour or ammonia-like, indicates that your clams may not be safe to eat. The color of the flesh can vary depending on the species of clam, but the liquid the meat is suspended in should be clear.

The advantage of using pre-shucked clams is twofold. Of course, you save time (and your fingers) by not having to physically shuck all of those clams yourself. But shucked clams also can last a little bit longer than fresh clams. While clams should be prepared within 24 hours, shucked clams will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator, and months if you freeze them, per the Washington State Department of Health.