Step By Step How to clean clams

how to clean clams

Clams are a delicious and versatile seafood option that can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes. However, before you can cook them, it’s important to properly clean them to ensure they are safe to eat. Follow these step-by-step instructions to clean clams like a pro.

1. Soaking the Clams

Start by placing your clams in a large bowl filled with cold water. Sprinkle generous amount of salt over the clams and let them soak for about 20 minutes. This will help the cl expel any sand or grit they may have inside their shells.

2. Scrubbing the Clams

After soaking, remove the clams from the water and scrub them with a stiff brush to remove any dirt or debris from the shells. Pay special attention to the hinge area where the two halves of the shell meet, as this is where sand and grit tend to accumulate.

3. Discarding any Open Clams

As you scrub the clams, be sure to discard any that are open or have cracked shells. This is a sign that the clam may be dead and should not be consumed. Only clean and intact clams should be used in your cooking.

4. Rinsing the Clams

Once the clams have been scrubbed, rinse them under cold running water to remove any remaining salt or debris. Be sure to handle the clams gently to avoid damaging the delicate shells.

5. Final Inspection

Before cooking the clams, give them a final inspection to ensure they are clean and healthy. Tap any clams that are slightly open on a hard surface – if they do not close within a few seconds, discard them. Additionally, check for any off-putting odors or discolored flesh, as these are signs that the clam is not safe to eat.


In conclusion, cleaning clams is a simple process that should not be overlooked when preparing seafood dishes. By following these steps, you can ensure that your clams are safe to eat and free from any unwanted grit or debris. Enjoy your delicious clam dishes with confidence knowing that they have been properly cleaned and prepared.

FAQ: How to Clean Clams

1. Why is it important to clean clams before cooking?

Answer: Cleaning clams is essential to remove any sand, grit, or impurities they might have. This ensures a cleaner and more enjoyable eating experience. Proper cleaning also helps prevent any potential health risks from consuming contaminated shellfish.

2. What tools do I need to clean clams?

Answer: You will need:

  • A large bowl or container
  • Cold water
  • Salt (optional, for purging)
  • A small brush (optional, for scrubbing the shells)
  • A colander or strainer

3. How do I purge clams of sand and grit?

Answer: To purge clams:

  1. Place the clams in a large bowl or container.
  2. Fill the bowl with cold water, ensuring the clams are fully submerged.
  3. Add salt to the water (about 1/3 cup of salt per gallon of water) to mimic seawater, which encourages the clams to expel sand and grit.
  4. Let the clams sit for 20-30 minutes. During this time, they will filter the water and release sand and impurities.
  5. Drain the water and rinse the clams under cold running water.

4. Should I use fresh or salt water for purging clams?

Answer: It’s best to use salt water for purging clams, as it closely resembles their natural habitat and encourages them to expel sand and grit more effectively. You can create a saltwater solution by adding about 1/3 cup of salt to a gallon of water.

5. How do I scrub the clams?

Answer: After purging, use a small brush (such as a vegetable brush) to scrub the outside of each clam under cold running water. This will help remove any remaining dirt or debris on the shell.

6. How long should I soak the clams?

Answer: Soak the clams for 20-30 minutes to allow them enough time to purge sand and grit. If the water becomes very cloudy or gritty, you can change the water and repeat the soaking process.

7. Can I use tap water for cleaning clams?

Answer: Yes, you can use tap water for rinsing and scrubbing the clams. However, for purging, it’s better to use a saltwater solution to mimic their natural environment and encourage them to expel sand and impurities.

8. How do I know if the clams are clean and ready to cook?

Answer: After purging and scrubbing, the clams should be free of sand and grit. They should also smell fresh, like the sea. Discard any clams that remain open after tapping them lightly on the counter, as they are likely dead and not safe to eat.

9. What should I do with clams that don’t open during cooking?

Answer: Discard any clams that do not open during cooking. This indicates that they were likely dead before cooking and may not be safe to eat.

10. How long can I keep cleaned clams before cooking?

Answer: Cleaned clams should be cooked as soon as possible, ideally within a few hours. If you need to store them, place the cleaned clams in a bowl covered with a damp cloth and keep them in the refrigerator. Use them within 24 hours for the best quality and safety.

11. Can I freeze cleaned clams?

Answer: It’s not recommended to freeze fresh clams, as they can lose texture and flavor. However, if you need to freeze them, ensure they are thoroughly cleaned and place them in an airtight container or freezer bag. Use frozen clams within a few months for the best quality.

12. Are there any signs of bad clams I should look out for?

Answer: Yes, avoid clams that have broken or cracked shells, those that do not close when tapped, or clams that have a strong, unpleasant odor. These are signs that the clams may be dead or spoiled and should not be consumed

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