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How to prepare fresh clams

Updated on July 20, 2012

My husband and I love to go clamming, crabbing, and fishing as a family, but preparing freshly-caught seafood can be intimidating to the uninitiated. Ten years ago, I knew nothing about how to kill, clean, and prepare our catches. Over the years, I've learned some tips and tricks along the way. If you're going to start catching your own seafood, I recommend the following must-have items:

Cook Time

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 10 min
Ready in: 15 min
Yields: However many clams you have.


  • clams, fresh
  • 2 gallons water
  • 1/2 cup sea salt
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • water, for boiling
  1. Once you've reached your catch limit, put the clams on ice in a cooler.
  2. (OPTIONAL) To clean the clams, you mix 1/2 cup sea salt and 1/2 cup cornmeal to 4 gallons of cold water. Add the sea salt/ cornmeal/ water mixture to the clams on ice in the cooler.
  3. (OPTIONAL 2) Attach the aerator to keep the water bubbling and the clams breathing and alive.
  4. (OPTIONAL 3) Check on the clams periodically, and when they start spitting out all the sand and muck, clean them with a soft toothbrush. After 1-2 hours, the sand should have mostly cycled out of their system. With the aerator, you can leave them in longer.
  5. Start boiling your water.
  6. FOR STEAMING: Add about two cups of water, place clams along bottom of steam basket until it's covered. Steam for 5-10 minutes until clams pop open.
  7. FOR BOILING: Bring water to a rolling boil, adding any flavoring (salt, garlic, butter etc.) that you like. Boil as many as your pot will fit without overflowing. Remove clams when shells have popped open.
  8. Remove the meat from the interior of the clam. If you did the sea salt/ cornmeal cleanse, the stomachs should be clean enough to eat. Otherwise, I recommend ditching the stomach or saving them for crab bait.


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