How to Clean Mussels

Properly cleaning mussels ensures they are healthy to serve and free of sand.  Follow these step-by-step instructions:

1.       Always choose mussels free of defects and never choose mussels that remain open when touched. The mussels should be tightly closed and stored in a cool area where they can breathe. When you purchase your mussels, immediately unwrap them at home so they can breathe, otherwise they might die before you cook with them. Dead mussels are poisonous and should never be consumed.

2.       Just before cooking, soak the mussels in clean water for about 20 minutes. As the mussels breathe, they filter water and expel sand.

3.       To remove the beard, using a dry towel, grasp the beard and give a sharp yank out and toward the hinge end of the mussel. This method will not kill the mussel. Do not pull the beard out towards the opening end of the mussel as this might tear the mussel on the inside of the shell, killing it. Discard beard.

4.       Remove the mussels from the water with a slotted spoon. Do not pour them into a strainer. The sand has collected in the bottom of the bowl and a slotted spoon allows for the sand not to re-enter the mussel. Place the mussels in another bowl of cold, clean water.

5.       Once the mussels have soaked, remove each and brush off any additional sand or ocean debris. Finish by cleaning mussels with running water and drying them with a towel prior to cooking.
Daneen Green is a Garde Manger Chef at Bottega Louie in Los Angeles. She is originally from Austin, Texas.

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