Tips for Buying Mussels
When you bring them home, they should also be stored in a bowl, set inside another bowl containing ice. These two bowls can then be set inside the fridge. They should keep well for three or four days, but everyone recommends using them immediately or as soon as possible.
Buy fresh is the best advice. You can never be sure about the state of the mussel before it was frozen once it has been frozen. You also don’t know if they have ever slightly thawed and were then refrozen.
Canned mussels are an option but just really don’t taste the same as fresh mussels.
Arrange your shopping day so you buy the mussels right before going home if possible. Wash and store the mussels first thing when you arrive at home, if you aren’t going to cook them right away.
If they smell very fishy, they probably aren’t very fresh. the should smell slightly fishy and salty, but not of strong fish smell.
Scrub with a brush in cold water.
Don’t leave them soaking in tap water as it will kill the mussels.
Scrape off any barnacles with a knife.
Remove byssus, or beard, right before cooking by pulling it from the tip of the mussel towards the hinge and cutting it off with a knife.
Throw away any mussels that are cracked or have chipped or broken shells.
Before cooking check for mussels that are open. Mussels with open shells may be dead and therefore dangerous to eat. To be sure they are dead and not just sleeping, take the mussel firmly in your hand and tap it sharply on a hard surface like the counter top. If the mussel was sleeping, it will wake up and close its shell tightly.
Some recommend doing this test to all the mussels you are going to cook. Usually the mussels relax and although the shells are closed, but if you tap them they will tighten their shells even more. This is further proof that they are alive. Discard any that don’t close up tight. (Just be sure that they weren’t knocked around and are already closed up tight before you do this test or you might end up throwing out all of your mussels!) This is another good reason to read up on how to cook mussels before you try it.
Tips on How to Store Cooked Mussels
Refrigerate cooked mussels as soon as possible after cooking if you aren’t going to serve them right away.
Remove mussels from shells. Discard the shells and place mussels in a container covered with the broth they were cooked in. This helps keep them moist and retain their flavor.
Securely cover the container and place in the coldest part of your fridge.
Stored like this, the mussels should be served within a day or two at the most.
Tips for Freezing Cooked Mussels
You should only freeze cooked mussels. If done correctly, frozen mussels can keep up to 3 months in the freezer compartment.
Remove mussels from the shells and discard the shells. Place mussels in a freezer bag or container with the cooking broth and seal tightly. If you have a quick freeze option on your freezer, use that, then move mussels once frozen to the regular part of the freezer.
General Tips on How to Cook Mussels
The general consensus is that you should use as little liquid as possible. Some even suggest that you don’t use any liquid at all as the mussels have their own liquid inside the shell. As soon as they are heated, they start opening and allow this liquid to come out. If you do use the waterless method, just be sure your pot is big enough to be able to toss the mussels every 20 seconds or so during the cooking.
So if you are doing a very big batch, then you might want to consider using some liquid so you don’t have to pick the pot up and shake it.
You can use any of the following ingredients:
- white wine
Just as a note about white wine. The general rule of thumb is only use a wine that you would be happy drinking. You’ll only need at the most two cups, so you’ll have some left over after cooking. Cheers!
If you are going to use liquid, use as little as possible so as to not dilute the natural flavors of the mussels with excess liquids. Whatever liquids you decide to use, bring the liquids to a boil and then place the mussels in the boiling liquid. Be careful not to splash boiling water!
Reduce heat to moderate and cook, stirring occasionally, until mussels open. Once the mussels are open, they are done. This can take anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes, depending on the size of the mussels. If you have mussels of differing sizes, you may want to remove mussels that open first so they don’t over cook, and leave the closed ones in a little longer until they open. Be sure to discard any mussels that don’t open.
Save the liquid from cooking the mussels. This is used in nearly all the recipes for preparing the mussels for serving. In our Mussel Recipes page you’ll find a few of the best recipes we’ve found.