Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Aug 7, 2011 08:16 PM

Opening Clams

A post on garlic presses got me rummaging thru a kitchen drawer, and I found a only-one-kind-of-use item I forgot I had. Bought many years ago, the clam opener is just that--for one use only. Trying to decide to keep or pitch, I thought about cooking instructions I have seen about steaming clams--those that do not open after steaming are "dead" and should be thrown out.

That got me to thinking--should a clam opener be used at all? Cuz if you do use it, how can you tell if any clams opened are dead?

Should I keep this thing or toss? I should add the clam opener is a Hoffritz item which was (and maybe still is, I don't know) quality stuff back when I bought it (circa 1978-79).

Any thoughts, advise? Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. "That got me to thinking--should a clam opener be used at all? "

    A clam opener can be used when making clams casino or for any recipe where you only need the raw clam and not the shell.

    1. I love eating raw clams on the half shell.... that is what a clam opener is used for (although I just use my oyster knife to open them).

      1. Thanks for the responses. I used to make baked/stuffed clams using a recipe I've since lost but am sure I can recreate.

        But going back to my second question--how can you tell if clams are dead using a clam opener? Or does it matter (do they not die that way)?


        1 Reply
        1. re: rednails

          I don't think there's really a clear line between alive and dead for shellfish (unless you're a marine biologist maybe) and from a food safety point of view this isn't as crucial as many people believe. They don't go from delicious to deadly from one second to the next. I don't know exactly how long the window is, but it's a matter of days, not hours (assuming cold storage temperatures).

          Keep in mind that clams that are obviously alive can still be polluted, or infected with bacteria/parasites that can harm you (risk increased if consumed raw). So the key is to get your clams from a trustworthy source and eat them quickly. Discard the broken ones, the ones that are open and unresponsive, and the ones that look/smell bad after opening. I think that's about the best you can do.