Mussels are living things, and need to stay that way until they are cooked. Eating a bad one can cause great discomfort. If you’re not used to handling them, here’s how to avoid any problems:
When you get the mussels home from the market, pick through them. Discard any that are broken. Put the rest straight into a bowl of cold salted water and let them sit in the fridge for an hour or so. This will encourage them to spit out any grit and sand. Some cooks add a tablespoon of flour to the water too, to feed them. When you are ready to cook, drain.
Most mussels are sold pre-cleaned, but it pays to check them over. If they have brown fibers or “beard” around the rims of their shells, run them round with a sharp knife to remove. Tap any open mussels sharply with your knife. Discard any that stay open. Tapping makes them think you’re a hungry gull and should make all the live ones close. Put all the cleaned mussels into a fresh bowl of salted water. Drain when you are ready to cook them.
Discard any mussels that stay closed after cooking. This means they weren’t alive to start with and should not be eaten. They won’t affect the edibility of the rest of the mussels in the pot.
All our recipes are created by chefs and reviewed by our oncology-trained staff Registered Dietitian, Kate Ueland, MS, RD, to ensure that each is backed with scientific evidence and meets the standards set by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.