Signs That Your Clams Have Gone Bad

There's something so delicious about a dish of steamed clams or clams sautéed in butter over pasta. It's a simple, light meal that's easy to cook and one that pairs beautifully with a glass of white wine. However, if the clams have gone bad, that's not something anyone wants to experience a few hours after eating them. So, it's important to understand the shelf life of clams as well as how to tell if they are no longer good. 

Clams that have gone bad are usually dead. When dead mollusks like clams die, toxins begin to compound inside them, and even worse, those toxins can be transferred to you if you cook and eat them. This is why it is not only important to really take a good look at the clams before buying them, but also to inspect them right before you cook them for dinner too. If more than two or three need to be thrown out, then the entire batch could be toxic (via The Week).

Look for clams that are open, not closed

To avoid cooking toxic clams, you need to know what to look for. The primary indicator as to whether or not clams are good is if they are open or closed. Clams should be slightly open, and if you tap on them, the shells should close rather quickly. If the clam shells are closed or do not close when you tap on them, then the clam is dead. That's when you need to toss them in the trash.

Another way you can tell if clams are dead if you'd like to double check is to toss them in a bowl of water. If the clams float in the water, they are dead, according to The Week. Again, throw them away and do not eat them.

If you have fresh clams stored in the refrigerator, they should last between seven to 10 days. Shelled clams and frozen clams can both last four to five days in the fridge. Any kind of clam, be they fresh, shelled, frozen, or even cooked can stay good for three to six months in the freezer. So, make sure you keep them frozen if you don't plan to eat your clams within a week or so of buying them (via Eat By Date).