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Thread: Collecting Mussels

  1. #1
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    Default Collecting Mussels

    Collected some mussels in the Cook Inlet. Went out at low tide and got them off some large rocks thinking they would not be sandy. (They were all closed, we tossed the open ones) Brought them home in salt water and took off the beards, rocks, etc. Put them in some fresh water and noticed they were all open. Put them in of a bucket of snow outside, but they still remained open and looked dead. What went wrong?

    We figured the mussels were fresh so it was okay that they were open and steamed them, but were very gritty. Do they filter out sand if you let them in salt water like clams? We always add pepper to make the clams "puke". Also added salt to the clams and they coughed up lots off sand. If you add too much salt, will it kill them? Have tried to research adding salt to the clams but can't find anything.

    No PSP- we're still alive.

    Thanks for the help.- ESF

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    We eat them all the time. They are most delicious! We take off the beards and rinse them in a collander with cold water running on them while we finish cleaning them all. I do not soak them at all nor do I keep them in water when I pick them. If I'm not eating them right away I put them on a plate in the fridge with a set of damp papertowels underneath and on top. I rarely have any that are open the next day. You probably killed them with your "treatment". Be wary of eating open ones prior to cooking. I pick mussles in very rocky areas and seem to have good luck getting very little sand.

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    Premium Member kasilofchrisn's Avatar
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    I agree with 330 you must have done something wrong.
    I also have collected them in rocky areas and never found them to be gritty at all.
    I have put them in buckets of water but only while we were picking them. We have always cooked and eaten them up fresh. Heat them over a campfire until they pop open then eat them.
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    Anyone have any pics of the mussels we are talking about?
    I'm guessing they are the black ones we see everywhere?
    BK

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    Fresh water kills mussels.
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    We collected some last season [since I haven't yet broken the PWS clam code] and had a couple enjoyable dinners.
    We just cleaned them up and put them on glacier ice in Ziploc's one the way home.

    Mussels.jpg

  7. #7

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    We like to get some around Anchor Point every now and then. We bring them home in a bucket with salt water and keep them in there until that evening when we're ready to eat them. At that time we take off the beards and clean the shells (an oyster shucking knife works great for this) and rinse them in a colander under running water. At this point they go in Cold freshwater with a healthy quantity of cornmeal added for 30 minutes, get rinsed a final time, and then cooked immediately. We've never had any problems before.

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    If you stored them in sea water, they probably suffocated. Try storing them on ice but not submerged.

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    Member sayak's Avatar
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    I don't think it was the saltwater, because we have always transported them in sea water and had many great feasts!
    When we are ready to eat a mess of mussels, we pull the crap off the shells and throw them (shells and all, mind you) in a big frying pan with chopped garlic, shallots, rosemary, and plenty of butter. Right before you finish cooking them (and it doesn't take long), splash them with some white wine. Serve it up with a good wine or beer and some garlic bread or pasta. This is about the best shellfish eating you can imagine. And almost no cleaning required!
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    Member Cap'n Ron's Avatar
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    When eating them on the west coast of the lesser 48, always left the beard on, something to hold while dipping them in a butter sauce! OK, remember all the water we drank from all those creeks before we ever heard of giardia? Then, we heard about it and it WAS real, so now I am always afraid of getting that fresh water crud...except when I am really thirsty and the water looks really good, and it is and I am still alive.

    Been eating clams from PWS, and about 5 years ago a bunch of biologists were doing some filming near us, and they checked all the clams around our beach and had them analyzed and said they were fine...no PSP.

    Along comes the last couple issues of Alaska Magazine...BIG ad each issue now proclaiming that NO ONE should eat privately gathered shellfish in Alaska, people are getting critically ill and dying. We are admonished in this ad to ONLY eat shellfish from a commercial provider, because they are regularly tested for PCP...Have you seen this? ADFG and other sources are cited.

    Well, on the surface, this seems like an ad that would be paid for by commercial shellfish providers. Secondly, does anyone believe there is all this testing going on for all the commercial clam and mussel places? Thirdly, aren't a lot of those commercial shellfish brought in from outside, even from SE Asia?

    Anyway, EATSLEEPFISH is really getting into Alaska, great to see buddy, keep it up!!

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    Member bkmail's Avatar
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    If there was PSP in PWS, wouldn't Royal Wave oyster farm be affected also?
    IE....If Royal Wave is open for business shouldn't the clams and mussels be safe to eat in PWS?
    Is this PSP problem very site specific or widespread that it would affect the whole PWS?
    BK

  12. #12

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    Dunno about any conspiracies to keep folks from eating wild rather than commercial. But I do know first hand what happens when folks get bit by PSP. Seen it and helped treat it. Ain't perty, and I ain't taking chances. Period.

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    Premium Member kasilofchrisn's Avatar
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    I don't know about PWS but I do know some Cook Inlet beaches get tested.
    I know they test Clam Gulch beach and it is PSP free.
    I wonder how hard this test is to do or how expensive it is?
    Could a private individual harvest from a beach they found to have shellfish then take a sample somewhere for testing?
    I am not sure they are saying don't harvest your own buy commercial. I think it is a general warning about the effects of PSP so if you get it you were at least aware that it was a possibility when harvesting from untested beaches.
    Maybe someone like Homerdave with more knowledge on this can chime in.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cap'n Ron View Post

    Along comes the last couple issues of Alaska Magazine...BIG ad each issue now proclaiming that NO ONE should eat privately gathered shellfish in Alaska, people are getting critically ill and dying. We are admonished in this ad to ONLY eat shellfish from a commercial provider, because they are regularly tested for PCP...Have you seen this? ADFG and other sources are cited.

    !
    Never saw that ad, but if those shellfish are taking angel dust, I'm not eating them.
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    The PSP program is managed though the Department of Environmental Conservation Alaska.
    Click this link and type PSP in the search engine and you will find what you are looking for.
    http://www.dec.state.ak.us/
    There have been at least 2 deaths recently associated with PSP both east [Haines] and west [I believe Kodiak] of PWS.
    I've called the project head and he satated "if you eat untested PWS clams you are playing Russian roulette".
    This is because if you get symptoms it's likely you couldn't get back to proper medical attention in time.

  16. #16
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    The warning is clearly not just warning not to eat self-collected shellfish but to ALWAYS buy from retail and wholesale commercial providers because they ONLY sell if tested. Well...read it for yourself on P. 63 of the April Alaska Magazine, or on another page of the last 3-4 issues. I could not find it posted on alaskamagazine.com. However, the message says it is a public interest message provided by Alaska Magazine, which HAS changed its editor and some other staff concurrent with the running of this message.

    It undoubtably well-intended, and I wouldn't argue that there is no danger, but how much and where? There are four links listed:

    http://dec.alaska.gov.eh.RecShell/index.html
    http://www.epi.alaska.gov/id/dod/psp/default.htm
    http;//seagrant.uaf.edu/features/PSP/psp_page.html
    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6045a3.htm

    As Kasilofchrisn indicated, these may not be as dire as I am saying, and they are not, yet the AK Magazine public message is dire, and is very strong NOT to self collect any shellfish. I think this needs to be explored more, sure we can get 100% safety on a lot of things by doing nothing, but risk is always there and we need to know the real risk and manage that. If you get PCP, it is a really bad thing, but if that risk can be managed and minimized like a lot of life's risks are, such as driving a car, then maybe we are OK to go ahead and collect shellfish...

    By the way, the first link makes it look like Cook Inlet is very well-covered with testing, probably because of all the razor clam gathering there. I wonder if they test mussels though?

    Well...have at it everyone, I think this is an important topic and a good one to have EATSLEEPFISH dry that wet stuff behind his ears with!

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by kasilofchrisn View Post
    I don't know about PWS but I do know some Cook Inlet beaches get tested.
    I know they test Clam Gulch beach and it is PSP free.
    I wonder how hard this test is to do or how expensive it is?
    Could a private individual harvest from a beach they found to have shellfish then take a sample somewhere for testing?
    I am not sure they are saying don't harvest your own buy commercial. I think it is a general warning about the effects of PSP so if you get it you were at least aware that it was a possibility when harvesting from untested beaches.
    Maybe someone like Homerdave with more knowledge on this can chime in.
    There is a group currently working on developing a portable test kit for PSP. I spoke to a researcher at this year's science symposium. Initial results look good. I don't know if a commercial product is currently available:
    http://www.jellett.ca/index.htm

  18. #18
    Premium Member kasilofchrisn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kisutch View Post
    There is a group currently working on developing a portable test kit for PSP. I spoke to a researcher at this year's science symposium. Initial results look good. I don't know if a commercial product is currently available:
    http://www.jellett.ca/index.htm
    Thats cool! That is the kind of idea I thought might be out there to give people a little piece of mind when it comes to shellfish.
    Test the beach you are harvesting once a year or so and rest assured you are eating safe healthy seafood you harvested yourself.
    Thanks for the info.
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    Member AKluvr95's Avatar
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    I think the link was broken to one of Cap'n Ron's documents.
    It's from back in 1996 but really outlines the issues very well.
    I hope this link will work. If not ~ Google Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning: The Alaska Problem
    http://seagrant.uaf.edu/features/PSP/PSP.pdf
    I wholeheartedly plan on harvesting clams/mussels in PWS this season.
    My advice to those who've accompanied me is to simply wait until we return home to enjoy them.

  20. #20
    Member Cap'n Ron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKluvr95 View Post
    I think the link was broken to one of Cap'n Ron's documents.
    It's from back in 1996 but really outlines the issues very well.
    I hope this link will work. If not ~ Google Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning: The Alaska Problem
    http://seagrant.uaf.edu/features/PSP/PSP.pdf
    I wholeheartedly plan on harvesting clams/mussels in PWS this season.
    My advice to those who've accompanied me is to simply wait until we return home to enjoy them.
    I double checked, and I did copy that link just as they have it in the magazine warning...I will contact them and let them know it is defective, and give them the link you posted, it works perfectly and is a very comprehensive set of articles. Most of these are very informative and easy to read, a few are very technical and full of scientific jargon...BUT I sure recommend everyone to check this link out and read it...even has a great section identifying all the clam, mussel, scallop etc. species. One thing that will stand out...razor clams seem to always be safe in Cook inlet, great news for forum members! Kodiak has the most cases, and only one of the 143 cases in 20 years in the study was in PWS, and that on Montague. So, it seems to be rather rare, but if you get it can be deadly. There are a lot of unreliable myths about this out there, they are all discussed in the link.

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