How to Cook Mussels

How to cook mussels

You'll find here everything on how to cook mussels as well as to how to buy, prepare and store mussels.

Tips for Buying Mussels

Moxxor mercury free

In today's polluted world, it's not always better to get things in the wild. A good example of this are mussels. If the waters where they live are polluted, then the mussels will be polluted as well since they feed by filtering the water. It's reported that mussels from polluted waters can cause food poisoning. See the tips below about how to cook mussels and prepare them.

In the pristine waters around NZ, there doesn't seem to be problems with contaminated mussels, but in most of the rest of the world, our oceans are not what they used to be and wild mussels may not be as good to eat as aquacultured mussels. It's better to be safe. Just be sure you know how to cook mussels. See Dr. Howard Peiper's essay on "The Truth About Fish Oil."

Be sure that the mussels at the store where you plan to purchase them are kept on ice and not just in a wet basket.

When you bring them home, they should also be stored in a bowl, set inside another bowl containing ice. These two bowls can then be set inside the fridge. They should keep well for three or four days, but everyone recommends using them immediately or as soon as possible.

Buy fresh is the best advice. You can never be sure about the state of the mussel before it was frozen once it has been frozen. You also don't know if they have ever slightly thawed and were then refrozen.

Canned mussels are an option but just really don't taste the same as fresh mussels.

Arrange your shopping day so you buy the mussels right before going home if possible. Wash and store the mussels first thing when you arrive at home, if you aren't going to cook them right away.

If they smell very fishy, they probably aren't very fresh. They should smell slightly fishy and salty, but not of strong fish smell.

Tips for Preparing Mussels for Cooking

Green lipped mussels in local Auckland market. Image courtesy of: Leslie

Scrub with a brush in cold water.

Don't leave them soaking in tap water as it will kill the mussels.

Scrape off any barnacles with a knife.

Remove byssus, or beard, right before cooking by pulling it from the tip of the mussel towards the hinge and cutting it off with a knife.

Throw away any mussels that are cracked or have chipped or broken shells.

Before cooking check for mussels that are open. Mussels with open shells may be dead and therefore dangerous to eat. To be sure they are dead and not just sleeping, take the mussel firmly in your hand and tap it sharply on a hard surface like the counter top. If the mussel was sleeping, it will wake up and close its shell tightly.

Some recommend doing this test to all the mussels you are going to cook. Usually mussels relax and the shells are closed. But if you tap them they will tighten their shells even more. This is further proof that they are alive. Discard any that don't close up tight. (Just be sure that they weren't knocked around and are already closed up tight before you do this test or you might end up throwing out all of your mussels!) This is another good reason to read up on how to cook mussels before you try it.

Tips on How to Store Cooked Mussels

Refrigerate cooked mussels as soon as possible after cooking if you aren't going to serve them right away.

Remove mussels from shells. Discard the shells and place mussels in a container covered with the broth they were cooked in. This helps keep them moist and retain their flavor.

Securely cover the container and place in the coldest part of your fridge.

Stored like this, the mussels should be served within a day or two at the most.

Tips for Freezing Cooked Mussels

You should only freeze cooked mussels. If done correctly, frozen mussels can keep up to 3 months in the freezer compartment.

Remove mussels from the shells and discard the shells. Place mussels in a freezer bag or container with the cooking broth and seal tightly. If you have a quick freeze option on your freezer, use that, then move mussels once frozen to the regular part of the freezer.

General Tips on How to Cook Mussels

The general consensus is that you should use as little liquid as possible. Some even suggest that you don't use any liquid at all as the mussels have their own liquid inside the shell. As soon as they are heated, they start opening and allow this liquid to come out. If you do use the waterless method, just be sure your pot is big enough to be able to toss the mussels every 20 seconds or so during the cooking.

So if you are doing a very big batch, then you might want to consider using some liquid so you don't have to pick the pot up and shake it.

You can use any of the following ingredients:

  • water
  • broth
  • beer
  • white wine

Just as a note about white wine. The general rule of thumb is only use a wine that you would be happy drinking. You'll only need at the most two cups, so you'll have some left over after cooking. Cheers!

If you are going to use liquid, use as little as possible so as to not dilute the natural flavors of the mussels with excess liquids. Whatever liquids you decide to use, bring the liquids to a boil and then place the mussels in the boiling liquid. Be careful not to splash boiling water!

Reduce heat to moderate and cook, stirring occasionally, until mussels open. Once the mussels are open, they are done. This can take anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes, depending on the size of the mussels. If you have mussels of differing sizes, you may want to remove mussels that open first so they don't over cook, and leave the closed ones in a little longer until they open. Be sure to discard any mussels that don't open.

Save the liquid from cooking the mussels. This is used in nearly all the recipes for preparing the mussels for serving. In our Mussel Recipes page you'll find a few of the best recipes we've found.

Closing Thoughts About Green Lipped Mussels

Most people who love mussels, really love them and eat them all they can. If you know how to cook mussels and enjoy eating them, you may be able to prevent pain associated with inflammation such as arthritis and other inflammatory processes by regularly eating green lip mussels.

If you are allergic to shell fish, don't try eating mussels. We have researched the market and found a green lipped mussel oil that is done in such a way that there are no proteins in the oil, making it suitable for those with allergies. Of course, before beginning any treatment with such an oil, consult with your professional health care service provider. (This is also good for those who don't know how to cook mussels.)

Also, consider doing as we do with adding any nutrient dense food to our diet. We always begin by adding the new food or supplement slowly to be sure there is now negative reaction. Everyone is different and what works for one may not work for someone else.

Even if you know how to cook mussels and are able to regularly consume green lip mussels, and your health condition doesn't improve or you want to fast-track your recovery, you might want to consider green lipped mussel oil. Our recommendation is Moxxor.

We are using one personally and find it to be excellent in all ways. The results and benefits have been great and we highly recommend it. You can read our personal experience with this marine oil supplement here.

If you have any tips on how to cook mussels, please send them in and we will publish them.