Served on the half-shell, tossed with pasta or simply steamed, clams and other shellfish are a constant favorite with chefs and diners. And, since clams can be raised without polluting or damaging the environment, they are an excellent ocean-friendly seafood choice.

Many cooks are intimidated by the idea of cooking shellfish, but clams are almost foolproof. At their simplest, clams can be steamed with a splash of wine and a handful of aromatic herbs—just cook them until all the shells open. But, don’t limit yourself. Experiment with farm-raised clams with udon and Miso broth or farm-raised clams with beet risotto and bercy sauce.

Also known as:

farmed clams, littlenecks, cherrystones, topnecks, chowder clams, quahogs

Availability:

Year-round

Product forms:

Live or frozen, in the shell, on the half-shell or shucked

Shopping tips:

Live clams should respond by closing their shells when dunked or rinsed in cold water, and should not smell bad.

Substitutions:

Farmed clams can be substituted for other types of clams, mussels and other shellfish.

Recipes:

Farm-raised clams with udon and Miso broth

Farm-raised clams with beet risotto and bercy sauce
Clam farming: Clams are farmed on the bottoms of bays and estuaries. More.

Conservation notes:

U.S. farm-raised clams are an excellent ocean-friendly seafood choice. More.
Last updated: January 2009

 

Clam Farming

Clams are farmed on the bottoms of bays and estuaries. The clams are initially hatched and raised in hatcheries and then nurseries. Once the clams are about a centimeter long, they are transferred to the farming location, which is typically in a sheltered bay or estuary. There, the clams are raised in cages or mesh bags until they are large enough to harvest.

Clams are sensitive to water quality, and require clean, unpolluted water. In fact, since clams are filter-feeders, they can actually improve the quality of the water where they are farmed. This means that clam farming operations often have a positive impact on coastal environmental health and quality.

Most U.S.-farmed clams are raised in Massachusetts and along the mid-Atlantic and southern coastal states.

Conservation Notes

U.S. farm-raised clams are an excellent ocean-friendly seafood choice.

Clams and other shellfish are filter feeders. They capture and eat microscopic particles, plants and nutrients by filtering ocean water. This means that clam farming operations can actually clean the water where they are located.

Most farmed clams and other shellfish are raised in mesh bags or cages. When the clams are large enough to harvest, the farmer simply collects the bags or cages from the farming location.