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Oct 19, 2010 06:49 PM

I just steamed & ate littleneck clams. Can I make stock from the shells?

I just bought and steamed 18 littleneck clams in half a beer and ate them for dinner. They were delicious. (And I'd've eaten them raw, but those suckers are hard to open!)

Now, my question: Are their empty shells good for anything? Namely, making stock? I've never made clam stock and don't really know if it's even a thing. Also, the shells have already been steamed for five minutes or so to open the clams, and they contain no meat except that tiny connective muscle.

I'm planning to make corn and clam chowder in the next few days from canned clams and frozen corn. I have a bunch of kernelless corn cobs in the freezer that I was gonna turn into stock for it, so I'd just add the clam shells if y'all think they'd do anything. If the shells would impart enough flavor, I'd skip the addition of clam juice to the chowder.


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  1. You can use them as serving vessels for appetizers or similar but you ate the meat out of them and all of the liquid was lost when they opened so there is nothing to gain by simmering the shells unlike, say, shrimp where the shells still contain flavor.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Cherylptw

      Second that, no flavor in clam shells.

      1. re: bushwickgirl

        Third that, and add that next time you steam clams, save the liquid in the pan (taste it first...). If you can work the liquid to clam ratio correctly, you'll get a nice clam liquor to use in place of the bottled stuff. (I use it as a base for clam chowder.) Also, as you clean the clams out, either do it over a cup/bowl to collect the juice and pour it back with the liquid in the pan, or do it over the pan itself.

        If you're interested, I recommend going light on the liquid in the pan, as it takes very little liquid to steam the clams; and if the liquor comes out strong, you can always dilute it with some water - whereas fortifying a weak stock would involve steaming more clams or using the bottled stuff. With 36 clams, I use about a cup of water - or about 1/2 inch of water in the bottom of the pan. If this seems like a big pain....well, that's why they make the bottled stuff.

    2. I dry the shells either under the sun or in the oven and then add them to my garden.

      I heard of people feeding oyster shells to chickens to give them extra calcium, don't know about clam shells as it seems to be much harder.

      1 Reply
      1. re: cutipie721

        Yes, the shells can definitely be repurposed, just not for stock; I stick them in potted plant pots as a decorative accent.

      2. Shellfish carcasses have flavor-lots of it! So shrimp, lobster and crab shells make for delicious stock. You can't believe how much flavor!
        But mollusk shells such as clams and mussels do not. The flavor comes for the "liquor" which they release once they open while cooking.