Steamed mussels, served over pasta or with a chunk of crusty bread, are an affordable delicacy well within the reach of every home cook.

Many cooks are intimidated by the idea of cooking shellfish, but mussels are about as easy as it gets. Mussels are fantastic even when simply steamed with a splash of wine and a handful of herbs. But, don’t stop there. Try mussels with saffron and tomatoes over pasta or tossed with Asian flavors and served over a bed of rice.

Also known as:

Farmed mussels, blue mussels, bay mussels, Prince Edward Island mussels or PEI mussels.

Availability:

Year-round

Product forms:

Live, in the shell. Frozen, shucked or cooked; also marinated, smoked or precooked

Shopping tips:

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

Substitutions:

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

Recipes:

Thai style farmed blue mussels

Farmed blue mussels with saffron and tomato over linguini

Mussel farming : Most mussels are farmed using a system of ropes suspended from rafts or bouys. More.

Conservation notes:

Farm-raised mussels are an excellent ocean-friendly seafood choice. More.
Last updated: April 2008

 

Mussel farming

Most mussels are farmed using a system of ropes suspended from rafts or bouys. Mussels attach to the ropes and take 12 to 18 months to reach a harvestable size. Some farmers grow their mussels in cages on the bottom, but most find that off-bottom-culture increases the harvest per area, reduces the risk of predation, and allows the mussels to grow faster and larger.

Conservation notes

Farm-raised mussels are an excellent ocean-friendly seafood choice.

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

Most farmed mussels are raised on suspended ropes that never contact the seafloor, which prevents the risk of habitat destruction. Some mussel farmers raise their mussels in mesh bags or cages, either suspended in the water column or attached to the seafloor. When the mussels are large enough to harvest, the farmer simply collects the bags or cages from the farming location.