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May 21, 2007 09:23 AM

A mussel disaster - What happened?

On Saturday, I stopped at a fish market and bought muscles. I ended up saving them for the next day and on Sunday I took them out of the fridge to cook them. They were all dead.

I don't get it? did I need to store them under water? Or might they have been bad from the start? I've only bought muscles one other time, so this was fairly new to me.


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  1. Mussels need air and moisture, but should not be underwater. A plastic bag with multiple holes layed over a bed of ice works best. A closed plastic bag will suffocate them, and they don't do well in a dry refrigerator environment for too long.

    1. How did you store them? Live mussels or clams should store for several days if stored properly. Place them in a colander, put the colander in a bowl, cover them with ice and a clean kitchen towel, and store in the coldest part of your fridge. Never store shellfish in water.

      1. I assume you meant "mussels". If they were alive when you bought them, they should be fine the next day if you stored them loosely covered in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Plastic bag or tightly covered container would not work, nor is drowning them in tap water.

        3 Replies
        1. re: PBSF

          Oops! Yes, I meant "mussels"! My spelling is aweful!

          I did have them in the plastic grocery bag in which they were given to me. Perhaps I suffocated them.


          Thanks for all the storage advice. Next time, I'll try that.

          1. re: puppymomma

            Afraid so...they need a low temperature (i.e. ice AND refrigerator) and air.

            1. re: JudiAU

              Lobsters will die without air, also. Whenever I buy live mussels, clams, or lobsters, I always have the fishmonger just wrap them loosely in butcher paper before I bring them home. Believe it or not, a lot of "butcher/meat" people behind the counter, especially in places like Albertson's, Vons or the like, don't know how to handle fresh/live shellfish.

        2. I don't mean to be dense, but what do you mean by dead? Were they open or closed? If I bought mussels and the next day they were all closed I would just cook them would I know if they were alive or not?

          3 Replies
          1. re: Chowpatty

            If they're closed, they're alive. If they're open and won't close when you tap them on the counter, they're dead (no telling for how long!).

            1. re: Chowpatty

              What I understand is that if they are open to any extent, you tap them, and they close up if they are alive. Most of mine the next day were open and wouldn't close. There were a few closed up, but I thought that to be safe with them, you don't use the closed-up ones.


              1. re: puppymomma

                If they don't close before you cook them, get rid of them. If they don't open when you cook them. Get rid of them. Other than that, enjoy.


            2. I know that you can keep them for a day if stored correctly, but I always buy mussels the day I plan to cook them. The fishmonger can keep them in much better condition that I ever could, and I like to reduce the amount of mussels that I have to throw out. But even if you are keeping them for just a few hours, the plastic bag should not be sealed. I usually ask the store to take a plastic bag, fill it part way with ice, put the mussels in on top of the ice, and then keep the bag open.