The Most Crucial Step In Cooking Fresh Clams, According To Rachael Ray

Fresh clams are versatile and delicious whether you enjoy them steamed with white wine broth, baked, or in an extravagant paella. If you love clams but aren't sure how to buy and cook them, we've got you!

Learning to cook fresh clams is worth it because once you have the basics down, they are both easy to cook and nutritious. Clams are a lean protein source and easy to cook. According to the FDA, a serving of clams has just 110 calories with 17 grams of protein and 2 grams of fat. They are also rich in other nutrients like iron, zinc, copper, and B12, per the University of Washington.

You may have heard that cooking well starts with quality ingredients. When it comes to clams, this is especially true, since when clams go bad, they can release food illness-inducing toxins (via Oregon Health Authority). Choosing good clams is easier when you know what to look for. A good place to start is with our guide to different varieties of clams you may find in your local seafood store or grocery store.

Once you know the type of clams you want, be sure to purchase live, fresh clams. Rachel Ray shared the most crucial step to making sure your clams are both delicious and safe.

Know when to say bye bye to bad clams

The most crucial step is checking that your clams are still alive before you cook them. Rachel Ray shared a couple of easy tips on Instagram. First, inspect the clams as you wash them and before you cook them. Rachel explained that "if there are any broken shells" you notice while cleaning them, say, "bye-bye." She simply puts the clams in a pan and shakes the pan to uncover any bad shells. She also suggests one more crucial check to do after the clams are cooked. Fresh clams will open when cooked. If you notice any that didn't open, Ray suggests you say, "bye-bye," as well, and discard them. 

The Florida Department of Agriculture offers additional guidance for selecting and storing fresh clams. The clams should not stink. Choose clams with a subtle hint of the sea in terms of smell. Be careful when storing not to put them directly on ice or immerse them in water. Instead, put them in the refrigerator in a container that is slightly open and drain any excess liquid. Rinse them before cooking. Martha Stewart echoes Ray's tips on when to discard clams and offers the additional step of the tap test. Fresh live clams may be closed and may open slightly to breathe. If you notice one that is slightly open, tap on it. If the clam closes, it is still alive. Now that you know how to select, store, and prepare fresh clams, you may enjoy this easy white clam sauce linguine recipe.