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Clam storage emergency

I just purchased a dozen clams, but I won't be using them for another 2 hours. Are they in danger of dying before I cook them, and, if so, how do I store them until needed?


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  1. I'd put them in some water in the fridge in a bowl and add a sprinkling of flour.

    2 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      I don't understand the flour part. Why would you put flour on them? Clams keep just fine in the fridge in a bowl- without water. Clams are salt water bivalves and fresh water could kill them

      1. re: MeffaBabe

        The flour encourages the clams to open and close (for "food") thereby releasing more of the grit. It's a cleaning issue, not a storage issue.

    2. No need to worry. Just put them in a plastic bag or container in the fridge with a little opening for air and they'll be fine for at least a couple of days, let alone 2 hours. No ice directly. That'll kill them.

      1 Reply
      1. re: oakjoan

        Great, thanks.

        With respect to cleaning, I've been told to submerge the clams in an ice-water bath (any chemists in the house?), about 20 minutes before cooking. The clams will expel dirt and sand into the bath, and then I can just pick the clean clams out.

      2. yepper just refrigerate them.

        1. A few hours in the fridge, no problem. To keep longer, put ice in the bottom of a container and clams on top, then cover loosely and put the container in the fridge. Drain off water a couple times a day and add more ice if needed. The clams will be ok on top of the ice, but don't let them get submerged. It's the fresh water, not the contact with the ice that will kill them (at least I've never killed them that way). Same method works for oysters and mussels.

          A sprinkling of flour???

          3 Replies
          1. re: Zeldog

            Julia Child used flour in the same way to clean mussels in MTAOFC, so I think it should work the same way with clams.

            1. re: Adin Collver

              This is a rather old thread (2007) and you may or may not get a response from the poster.

              This is the first time I've read this thread and I'm just appalled to read that posters would even think about soaking or submerging their clams in fresh water.

              Today's mussels are largely farmed and very clean, unless you pick your own (wild) ones. At the time Julia wrote her book, mussels were wild; there's no need to sprinkle farmed mussels with flour or cornmeal or anything. I never considered cleaning wild mussels in this manner. A little grit won't kill you.

              1. re: bushwickgirl

                I think the idea of the flour, besides cleaning, was to plump up the little guys too...kind of a sad little last meal :(... so it probably wouldn't hurt. I did it with clams and they were quite tasty. Who knows if the flour actually made a difference. Living in Las Vegas which is far from any super fresh shellfish, I am willing to take any precautions when cooking with them. Then again, if they are contaminated, there's nothing I can do to change that.

          2. Clams are good for at least a week (we're talking that you know they just came out of the water) and oysters are good for at least a month. OK let's say 2 weeks before anyone gets hysterical. I hear that they used to harvest oysters in the fall and bury them under straw outside for the whole winter, no problem. It's not as critical as you think. They'll let you know if they're dead.
            Oh and I sprinkle mine with cornmeal so they throw off the grit, but more soft shell than hard shell clams, and never oysters.

            1. ...and never leave them in a plastic bag in the back seat of your VW on a hot June day! I know!

              1. Store your clams in the fridge in a breathable bag (mesh or burlap). If you don't have that, put them in a bowl covered with a wet towel and they'll be just fine.
                The thing you don't want to do is submerge them in water. It will suffocate them.

                You can also sprinkle with flour or cornmeal, as stated above, which should cause the clams to spit out their grit.

                2 Replies
                1. re: QueenB

                  How much water do you put in a cooler with 400 clams?

                  1. re: QueenB

                    I put in water up to the top of the 400 clams and then sprinkled cornmeal over them I was told that they filter out the grit, but my main concern is that after soaking them all nite in a cooler will they be ruined by morning?

                  2. The thing to remember is that clams are living creatures, and you must eat them while they're alive. And with clams, telling if they're alive is a no-brainer: they have their shells tightly closed. When they die, they turn loose, and smell bad. If they're tightly closed, and don't stink, they're fine. If you cook them and they don't open fully, don't eat them: they were only barely alive when they went in, and won't be good. They'll live in the fridge, perfectly happy, well maybe not perfectly happy, but perfectly edible, for at least a week, and contrary to the mythology, even in a closed plastic bag. I just ate some that had been in exactly that condition, they tasted fine, and I'm not dead. And when I bought them, they were on ice, as they commonly are. So the notion that that kills them is patently not true, at least in the short term.