Sections

9.1.17

Wild Thing: Blue Mussels

(Mytilus edulis)

Fae Kontje-Gibbs

Summertime’s gone and the living’s once again easy. Sure, the fish are still jumping, but these, the months with R, are also great for gathering mussels. The tasty bivalves are surprisingly easy to harvest – no digging required. You just have to find them first: mussel beds can be hard to locate and are easily destroyed by predators and storms. Call your town’s shellfish constable for the most up-to-date locations.

Where to look: Search wave-washed rocks, ropes, and jetties, where they cling in large colonies. (You may need rubber gloves or an old screwdriver to loosen them.) Discard any cracked or open shells.

How to use: Add them to tomato sauce with fennel or white wine with garlic, or steam, fry, or smoke them. There’s only one mussel “must,” says Rick Karney, former head of the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group: “Wash them, wash them, wash them. One bad mussel will ruin the whole pot.”

“Give me then of thy good to make our cloister,” Quoth he, “for many a mussel and many an oyster, When other men have been full well at ease, Hath been our food, our cloister for
to rese.”

                – Geoffrey Chaucer