Mussels Seafood Species Information

Mussels Seafood Species Information


Mussels Storage & Handling

  • Fresh Most debearded live mussels have a shelf life of 7-10 days, although this decreases to 5-7 days after mussels have spawned. Live mussels should be held at 35-38°F in ice, which must be allowed to drain as fresh water will kill mussels. Discard mussels that are open and will not close when lightly tapped.
  • Frozen Mussels have a shelf life of six to nine months.

Fresh Availability

Year-round, but meat yields and harvests decline after spawning. Blue mussels spawn in summer, Mediterranean and greenshell mussels spawn in winter. The meat content of a mussel can be reduced by 30% or more after it spawns. It takes about two months for the meat yield to fully recover. The orange meats are the females, the whites are males. They both taste the same.

Mussels Nutritional Value

A 3 -ounce portion of mussels yields approximately 146 calories, 20 g protein, 4 g total fat. This food is a good source of Vitamin C, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, Phosphorus and Zinc, and a very good source of Protein, Vitamin B12, Iron, Manganese and Selenium. This food is high in Cholesterol.

Mussels Cooking Method

A bold taste that can hold up to strong-flavored recipes such as spicy Asian sauces and garlic mixtures. Usually mussels are served steamed as an appetizer with some crusty bread, but they can also be included in pastas or seafood stews such as a bouillabaisse.

The quality and price of a mussel is a function of how it is grown

  • (PEI) Rope-grown mussels are the most expensive, as they have the highest meat-to-shell ratio and are free of any grit. Mussel farmers hang ropes in the water to catch free floating mussel larvae, although some farmers raise larvae in hatcheries. The mussels attach themselves to ropes or the bottom with their byssus (biss-us), or beard, which should always be removed before eating. Mussel producers usually remove the byssus, however, it weakens the animal and shortens the shelf life. In the summer, when mussels are already weak from spawning, some producers may leave the byssus on. After growing on the ropes for about 14-18 months, the mussels are ready to harvest. The result is a mussel with a lighter shell and a plumper, more tender meat.
  • WILD mussels that are not purged are substantially cheaper. Slow growers than can take 7 to 12 years to reach 2 ½ inches, can be inconsistent with imperfect shells and, if older, can contain pearls. Bottom cultured and wild mussels that are purged in water to remove any sand or grit cost less than rope-grown mussels.

Seafood Watch Sustainable Seafood Guide

Best Choice – Abundant, well managed and caught or farmed in environmentally friendly ways.

To find more seafood species reports, please visit Seafood Watch.


Monterey Bay Aquarium Sea Watch

Pacific Seafood

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