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Updated on October 6, 2014

Mussels - Simple, Delicious Seafood

Mussels are among the most popular and best tasting shellfish. These mollusks are found in many parts of the world.

As well as being tasty, mussels are nutritious. They are particularly rich in protein and minerals while being low in fat, sodium and cholesterol. Among the benefits of mussels are their value as sources of vitamin C, iron and zinc.

Several of these compounds have been associated with promoting good growth, brain function, and immune system health. Mussels also contain omega-3 fatty acids, compounds that are known to believed to protect against heart disease and a provide other health benefits.

farmed mussels
farmed mussels

How to Prepare Mussels for Cooking

Mussels should be cleaned and rinsed before cooking. Discard any mussels are open or broken or that do not move or close when tapped .

Wild caught mussels can be scrubbed with a brush to remove any barnacles, sand or grit and their beard must also be removed. This can be done by pulling the filaments off, trimming with shears or by cutting with a sharp knife.

Rinse wild mussels several times but do not let them sit in water, as freshwater will kill them. Farmed mussels usually just need a quick rinse under cold running water.

blue mussels
blue mussels

Mussel Recipes

Sicilian Fisherman's Stew


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup chopped red onion

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

2 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped, with their juices

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 lbs fresh mussels in the shell

salt and freshly ground black pepper


Heat the olive oil in a wide, heavy pot over medium heat, add the onions and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the parsley and tomatoes. Raise the heat and bring to a simmer. Add 1 cup water and the wine.

Cook, partially covered, for 10 minutes.

Add mussels (in shell), cover, and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Wine-Steamed Mussels


2 cups white wine

1 red onion, sliced

2 tablespoons chopped garlic

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 dozen mussels, cleaned and rinsed well


Place all ingredients except mussels in a large pot.

Simmer on medium heat for 3 minutes; add mussels and cover.

Simmer until mussels open, stirring frequently.

Transfer mussels to a large bowl.

Boil remaining liquid until reduced to 1 cup.

Pour broth over mussels and serve.

Mussel Links

This collection of links are related in some way to mussels.

wild blue mussels
wild blue mussels

Wild Blue Mussels of the North Atlantic

Blue mussels have a smooth, bluish-black shell and tend to live in rocky areas of estuaries and the ocean. They often grow in clumps, attaching themselves to rocks or to each other by means of their "beard". They are typically harvested by hand at low tide.

Green Lipped Mussels - A Healthy Seafood Dish

Green lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus) is a New Zealand shellfish most commonly found growing in the clean water sea off the coast of New Zealand.

Green lipped mussels contain a host of vitamins, especially the B complex group. The also contain a broad range of minerals and trace elements. They are rich in protein, essential amino acids and are an excellent addition to a healthy diet.

French Bouchot Mussel Culture

The traditional French ‘bouchot’ method of mussel culture originates from the 13th century. According to legend, an Irish traveler was shipwrecked on the Mont Saint Michel Bay when he accidentally discovered the habit of mussels to aggregate on ropes and fatten remarkably . The culture method was named by a combination of two words in the Irish of the time: Bout=fence, Chot=Wood. The bouchot method of mussel farming is implemented on wooden poles which are placed upright into the sea bed in the low inter-tidal region.

blue mussels (Mytilus Edulis)
blue mussels (Mytilus Edulis)

Blue Mussel Aquaculture

In the North Atlantic, blue mussels (Mytilus Edulis) are grown on suspension aquaculture systems. Typically, farms employ a network of horizontal lines suspended in the water from buoys from which ropes or lines called droppers are hung.

The larvae or spat attach themselves to the droppers and grow. Blue mussels reach market sizes in 1-2 years. They feed by filtering 10-15 gallons of water a day.

blue mussel shell
blue mussel shell

Scottish Blue Mussels

A new report has identified significant scope for growth in Scotland's shellfish industry, with mussel farming identified as an area that Scottish producers should place more focus on.

Researchers at the University of Stirling have analysed the prospects and opportunities of farming mussels, oysters and scallops. The report says that, despite Scotland's marine environment offering good opportunities for cultivating shellfish, productions remains low compared to other parts of Europe.

On a visit to Blueshell Mussels in Shetland - Scotland's largest mussel farm - Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham said: "There is fantastic potential for shellfish farming in Scotland, as our clean waters offer the right conditions for cultivation in what is eco-neutral industry. As this study shows, there is significant scope to increase our productivity and the volume of shellfish, particularly mussels, that we produce.

A Study of the Prospects and Opportunities for Shellfish Farming In Scotland was produced by Stirling Aquaculture, based at the University of Stirling, and funded by Marine Scotland. The study covers issues such as site availability, market size and location, development and production and water quality. The report analyses the prospects for mussels, oysters and scallops.

Scottish shellfish production is dominated by mussels with 5,869 tonnes produced in 2008, followed by 303 tonnes of Pacific oysters, 20 tonnes of Native oysters, 27 tonnes of queen scallop and two tonnes of king scallop.

Mussels from Scotland are now available as certified products. In 2010, Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group (SSMG) rope grown mussels became the first farmed seafood in the UK to be awarded Friend of the Sea (FoS) certification. The SSMG group (representing about 70% of total Scottish mussel production) consists of 14 mussel farms which are located on the Scottish west coast and Shetland.

sources:, FoS

Galician Mussels

The Galician mussel is a well-balanced, healthy food, rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals. They are also low in cholesterol and promote healthy bone growth and muscle coordination. A dozen Galician Mussels equal 150g of meat, with 100g of mussels providing up to a quarter of the proteins an adult needs.

Mytilus galloprovincialis is a local species abundant in the wild and not overfished. Mussels on farming platforms continue to produce eggs and reproduce. Seeds or "mejilla" are taken by collectors from the coastal rocks using simple scrapers. Rope traps are also hung from the trays to catch the larva. The Fisherman Association monitors collection activity and insures only targeted species are caught.

The juvenile mussels are secured to a rope, using a biodegradable rayon net which decomposes within a few days of being placed in the sea, until the growing mussels reach their commercial weight. Mussels in Galicia are farmed using "Batea" - a floating platform with max area of 500m2, made of eucalyptus beam fastened on top of 4 or 6 barrels - or floaters - anchored to the sea bed by means of concrete block called "muertos" (dead). A max of 500 ropes not more than 12 metres long are hung down into the water. Bateas float in the Galician bays, called 'rias'.

The farming system does not disturb fishing activities. No by-catch occurs - the floating platforms even act as artificial reef aggregating wild life, mainly fish, birds and crustaceans. Mussels are farmed offshore without any feed, chemical treatments, GMO's, hormones nor antibiotics. Floating platforms are not treated with antifouling paints. All shell waste is managed by companies who clean and calcinate it to obtain calcic carbonate for reuse in the building industry or as fertilizer in agriculture. Fuel consumption is much lower when compared to other aquaculture activities, as no feed is used and mussels are not shipped by air-freight. A growing part of the energy used by processing factories comes from renewable wind energy. New areas of production must obtain Government authorization and undergo an Environmental Impact Assessment. No new area has been authorized in the past several years.

Today in the estuary waters of Galicia there are more than 3,300 bateas, producing 300.000 mt, almost half of the EU production. In value terms, mussels account for over 10% of total canned seafood sales in Galicia and are the second biggest species category after tuna. The mussel sector directly creates some 11,500 jobs (8,500 of which are permanent) and indirectly creates 7,000 others.

In 2008, Friend of the Sea announced certification of Frinsa's canned products from Galician mussels (Mytilus galloprovincialis).

ribbed mussels
ribbed mussels

Ribbed Mussels

Ribbed mussels are found along much of the East Coast of North America. Their shells are distinguished from most other mussel shells by the ribs that line the surfaces. They are found in great numbers along the edges of marshes, rocks and shell beds.

While many bivalves filter feed through a pair of siphons that draw in water and then expel it, mussels do not. When covered by the tide, ribbed mussels open slightly draw in water and extract the food in it. When the tide is out, they close, retaining fluids which in some cases can make humans ill. For this reason, gatherers usually avoid collecting ribbed mussels at low tide.

Ribbed mussels are not generally available commercially, but have a following of hobbyists that sometimes harvest them for food. Ribbed mussels are also an important part of the ecosystem, providing an important role as water filters. They are relished by wildlife, including raccoons, otters, ducks, oyster catchers, gulls and others.

Please leave a comment and if possible describe your favorite way to eat mussels.

Mussel Guestbook

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    • aaxiaa lm profile image

      aaxiaa lm 

      4 years ago

      Soooo delicious! Great lens!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      mmm.....nutritious but I have never tried them...wonder what they taste like.


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