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Food Guide

Mussels

Buying Tips

Quality mussels are easy to recognize. Fresh mussels smell clean, like the ocean, and the shells of live mussels are tightly closed. If the mussel is slightly open (no more than 1/4-inch or 0.635cm), tap the shell, and a healthy mussel will close it within 30 seconds.

Varieties

The blue mussels native to the Pacific Northwest may be wild-gathered or farmed. You can tell them apart because wild mussels are rough, while farm-raised muscles have a clean, smooth shell. Green mussels from New Zealand are larger. Mussels are sold live, frozen whole, as frozen or canned meat, sometimes smoked.

Preparation, Uses, & Tips

Inspect mussels to make sure they are tightly closed. Just before cooking, clean wild mussels by scrubbing with a stiff brush and pulling off the beard with a quick tug. Cultivated mussels need only be rinsed in cold water. To remove meat, either steam open or pry shells open and pick out meat.

Steaming

Place 1/4-inch (0.635cm) water (wine and seasoning optional) in the bottom of a large pan, and add mussels. Bring water to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until shells open (four to five minutes). Throw away mussels that don’t open. Serve mussels in bowls with broth.

Pan-frying

Heat frying pan, then add butter or oil. Add mussel meat and sauté until brown, about two to three minutes.

Storing

Refrigerate mussels in a bowl, and cover with a damp towel. Never store mussels in water or in an airtight container—either method will kill them. Mussels should be cooked as soon as possible, but keep for up to a week. To freeze, remove mussel meat from shells and wrap in freezer paper or plastic, then over-wrap with a plastic bag. Store for up to two months. To thaw, place mussels in refrigerator overnight. To thaw more quickly, wrap mussels in waterproof plastic and place in a sink with cool running water, allowing about 30 minutes per pound (about 454g). For fastest thawing, use the defrost cycle of your microwave allowing 3 to 5 minutes per 1/2 pound (227g). Let stand for 3 minutes.

Nutrition Highlights

Mussels (cooked, moist heat), 3 oz. (85g)

  • Calories: 146
  • Protein: 20g
  • Carbohydrate: 6g
  • Total Fat: 4g
  • Fiber: 0g

*Excellent Source of: Iron (5.71mg), Manganese (5.78mg), Phosphorus (242.25mg), Riboflavin (0.36mg), Selenium (76.16mcg), and Vitamin B12 (20.40mcg)

*Good Source of: Folic Acid (64.60mcg), Niacin (2.55mg), Thiamin (0.26mg), Vitamin C (11.56mg), and Zinc (2.3mg)

Provides 0.7 grams of omega-3 fatty acids

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The information presented in the Food Guide is for informational purposes only and was created by a team of US–registered dietitians and food experts. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements, making dietary changes, or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2020.