Mussels that remain closed after cooking are usually still edible. These mussels have stronger adductor muscles, causing the shell to stay firmly closed. Carefully open closed mussels with a knife. The meat in these mussels is usually fine, but occasionally you will come across a mussel that is filled with sand or ocean debris though.
When you remove mussels from their packaging, their shells will be slightly open. The protective environment of the packaging will cause them to open. Rinse the mussels under cold water and tap their shells against the edge of the countertop. Within moments, the shell will close. It is best to immediately discard mussels with a broken or damaged shell.
Mussels are very easy to prepare, especially given the fact that the mussels you buy in the store are already free of sand and have been debearded. A quick rinse suffices. The most popular method to prepare mussels is as follows: chop up some vegetables such as onion, leek and carrot and put them in a large pan with some laurel and celery. Put the mussels on top and sprinkle with some pepper; connoisseurs will add some white wine or even beer. Bring to the boil on a high flame and ten minutes later you will already be enjoying your tasty mussels.
White or orange mussel
There is no difference in quality nor flavour between white and orange mussels. A common misconception is that the difference in colour is related to the gender of the mussel; females are said to be orange and males white. This however is incorrect. The difference in colour is genetic. One mussel has more pigment than the other.
During cooking, raw mussels will add a wonderful salty and aromatic flavour to the cooking water. Do not throw this away! Freeze the cooking fluid in an ice cube tray and you have potent stock cubes. Use the stock in fish dishes or as a basis for tasty sauces.
Some people are hypersensitive to mussels. Eating mussels can cause them to suffer from skin irritation and nausea. This is due to the amount of protein in mussels, which tends to be particularly high at the start of the season. Later in the season, the protein content drops. Should these symptoms occur, then drinking a glass of milk can often bring relief.
Crabs in the mussels
Sometimes a batch of mussels will contain minute little crabs. A couple of rinses will usually remove them, but sometimes you may still come across a small crab or two. Small crabs will occasionally also nestle inside a shell. You can easily remove them by hand. Accidentally eating them poses no health risks.
Fresh mussels in the shell cannot be frozen. You can however boil them, remove them from their shells and then freeze them; you can keep them in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Tasty and healthy
Mussels are rich in proteins and are packed with minerals and vitamins. In comparison to meat, mussels contain more iron, phosphorus and vitamin B. And all that at only 25 percent of the caloric value of meat. So, a healthy choice!
A small pearl
As with oysters, mussels will sometimes contain a pearl. These small, dark pearls grow from a grain of sand that has landed in the mussel. The mussel sees the grain of sand as an intruder and covers it in mother of pearl.
Mussel Seed Capture Installation
Mussel growers are innovative. The latest technology is the Mussel Seed Capture Installation. In this approach, mussel seed is cultivated on lines or nets suspended from floatation devices off the coast. The method for the future that provides clean, sand-free mussels that are bursting with flavour.
Mussels are available in different types and classes. The name of the mussel type says something about the size of the shell, not about the contents/mussel meat volume. A larger shell does not automatically mean a larger mussel.
You can eat mussels with a fork or with your hands. Use the first empty shell to remove the next mussel from its shell.
A mussel meal
- Mussels go perfectly with fries, bread or pasta and salad.
- Popular mussel ingredients: leek, onion, celery, garlic, carrot, pepper, wine, beer, knob of butter, dash of cream.
- Calculate 1 kilo of mussels (in shell) per person when serving with fries, salad or pasta. Calculate 1.2 to 1.5 kg per person for a meal with bread.
- Prepare mussels as soon as possible after purchase.
- Briefly rinse mussels with water before cooking.
- Do not leave mussels in the water; doing so will cause them to lose their characteristic salty taste.
- Give mussels that are open a tap. If the mussel closes it is good and can be added to the pan.
- Use a large pan with lid so that the mussels have enough space to open. Shake the pan several times so that the mussels on the bottom are moved to the top and vice versa.
- While the mussels are cooking, bake the fries, cut the baguette and put the sauces in bowls.
- Put the pan on the table when all the mussels are open.
- Perfect with a glass of beer, wine or cider. Enjoy!