Friday, May 11, 2012

Razor Clams! Part 2: Cleaning and Storing

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Cleaned razor clams ready to eat
Cleaned razor clams ready to eat

Like all fresh seafood your newly dug razor clams are very perishable.  It is key that as soon as you have your limit you put your clams on ice.  Using the same handmade digging buckets really helps with this.  You want your clams to be getting chilled but not touching or floating in ice water since freshwater will kill them very quickly and begin the process of spoiling long before you want.  Your converted milk jugs will do this job perfectly.  Place them in your cooler and then pour your ice around the containers, making sure you do not get any inside with the clams.


Once you have your clams back at your camp, home, or clam cleaning station, you will need the following:
  • kitchen scissors
  • Large pot of boiling water (6 quart sized or larger)
  • Slotted spoon
  • Large bucket of ice water (my husband uses a food safe 5 gallon bucket)
  • Colander
  • Medium sized clean bowl resting in an ice water bath
Notice how much ice you need in all these steps?  I find buying a couple of bags of ice in advance works best since I don't normally have enough on hand to setup two different ice baths - the 5 gallon bucket and the bowl resting in an ice bath.  Take the time in advance to get everything setup and organized because once you get this going you will be moving pretty fast.

Step 1 - Rinsed razor clams ready for shell removal
Step 1 - Rinsed razor clams ready for shell removal
Step 2 - Removing the shell
Step 2 - Removing the shell
Step 3 - Butterfly your clam with your kitchen scissors
Step 3 - Butterfly your clam with your kitchen scissors

  1. Rinse each clam in very cold water to get off the worst of the sand.  We have a septic system so we do this step in a large bowl and then dump the water out into the flowerbed so we are not putting all that sand down into the system.
  2. It is now time to get the shells off.  The easiest way to do this is with a very quick (1 - 5 seconds) dip in boiling water.  You don't want to cook the clams so to avoid this you need to drop a clam in the boiling water and let it sit there for just a few seconds.  As soon as the shell loosens and begins to open scoop the clam out of the boiling water and immediately submerge it in your waiting large bucket of ice water to stop the cooking and get the clam back down to icy cold.
  3. Working through each clam one at a time, hold it firmly in the palm of your hand and using your kitchen scissors cut it open from bottom to top.
  4. Snip off the darkened end of the siphon.  Open the clam up and work from the inside, snip out any dark material, carefully removing the stomach.  Discard these bits.
  5. Gently rinse your butterflied clam one last time to remove the last of the sand and dark bits then move it to your waiting bowl resting ice water.  Keep the clams very cold while waiting for long term storage or eating.  Cleaned clams will keep in the refrigerator in an air tight container for a couple of days.  Never eat a clam that smells like anything but the fresh ocean.
Measuring cup as freezer bag holder
Measuring cup as freezer bag holder

When you are done you will have a pile of delicious clam meat ready to be eaten.  If you are lucky enough to have a large haul and want to store some just move them to a freezer bag.  I find putting my freezer bag with the top folded down into a measure cup to hold it while I load it makes this far easier to accomplish.  Label and then store in the freezer for up to 6 months or more.

Watch for Razor Clams! Part 3 where we finally get to eat them.
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