Market Name: Mussel
Scientific Name: Mytilus edulis
Common Name: Blue mussel, bay mussel
Flavor: Mild/Moderate
Texture: Medium

At one time held in low esteem, the blue mussel has become an aquaculture and culinary success story. While they grow wild, mussels are also farmed in Europe and on both coasts of North America. Maine is the largest U.S. producer, but the domestic market also draws farmed mussels from Canada’s Prince Edward Island and lesser amounts from China and South America. Washington is the Pacific Coast’s major supplier of farmed blue mussels. Wild mussels are found in the intertidal zone on rocks and pilings and in beds to depths of 30 feet. Mussels are farmed on ropes or in mesh tubes suspended from rafts. Off-bottom techniques reign, owing to quick growth, low predation, reduced sand accumulation, better taste and higher meat yield. The cultivated mussels are harvested at a shell size of 2 to 3 inches. They cost more than wild but are usually worth the extra price. To distinguish from wild mussels, check the shell. Farmed have thin, dark shells; wild have thicker, silvery shells.

Product Profile:
Blue mussels have a distinctive rich, sweet taste, like a blend of oysters and clams. Mussels should look and smell fresh and have tightly closed shells. Mussel meats, which range from white to orange, are plump and tender, but less soft than clams. Color doesn’t indicate quality. Females tend to be orange when ripe (they’re fine to eat and, unlike oysters, don’t taste oily when about to spawn). If a mussel’s shell gapes, try to pinch it shut. If the mussel is alive, it will respond by shutting its shell tightly. If it doesn’t, discard the mussel, along with any that have broken shells.

You Should Know:
Bags or containers of mussels should display the license number of the shipper, as required by the National Shellfish Sanitation Program. Buy only from certified growers who harvest in certified areas.

Cooking Tips:
Mussels have beards, or byssus threads, which they use to anchor themselves to a growing medium. The beard should be removed just prior to cooking. Mussels are best steamed in water, wine or cream broth seasoned with herbs and garlic. Try cold, lightly marinated mussel meats served in a sauce of mayonnaise, mustard and garlic, or use cooked mussel meats in pasta salads or as an appetizer. Mussels are also great in seafood soups or stews, like cioppino or bouillabaisse.

Cooking Methods: Broil,Saute',Smoke,Steam

Substitutions: Greenshell mussels, Hardshell clams, Softshell clams

Primary Product Forms:
Fresh: Meats
Frozen: Whole-shell, steamed Halfshell, steamed Meats, steamed Blocks (meats)
Value-Added: Marinated meats Smoked meats Pickled meats Frozen, breaded or battered meats Canned meats, stews

Global Supply: