Clamming can be a lot of fun. You will probably get a bit dirty, but it is fun. You will want to know when low tide is. The best clamming occurs when you have a minus tide. Get a local tide chart and look for tides marked with a “-” symbol. These negative tides are extra low. These low tides are the best time to catch your limit of clams. Pay attention to your state regulations on sizes and limits allowed for clams. Get a shellfish license if it is required.
What You Need
Get yourself a good pair of rubber boots. If they are insulated, all the better. If not, wear a couple pairs of warm socks; it may get cold while you are clamming. You will need a good heavy-duty shovel, some 1/2 inch dowel pieces, and a bucket. A rake is helpful if you get to hunt through the kelp beds. Use the dowels to mark where you find clams. They often are found in groups deep in the sand.
What to Look For
What you want to find in the sand are round holes. They will be about an inch wide. If you stick your finger into the hole, you should be able to feel the clam’s neck. Of course, once you touch it, the clam will withdraw its neck into its shell. This is when you use the dowel to mark the spot. If you mark all the nearby spots, then you can go back and dig them. If you get to clam where a big section of kelp is lying, use the rake to move it so you can look for holes.
You want to be careful when you dig so you do not break the shells. Some clams have long necks, so you can expect to dig down a couple of feet sometimes. If you go clamming about an hour before low tide, you should have no problem finding plenty. Pack your clams well for the trip home.
Cleaning Your Clams
When you get home, fill the clam bucket with fresh water, and let them soak for a couple of hours. This makes the clams put their necks out and they will get rid of some of the sand they contain. After soaking, wash them with clean, cold water.
If you are going to steam them right away, you can do that now. Otherwise, you will want to shuck the clams to get them out of their shell. It pays to have a good, sharp knife and a protective glove for the hand holding the clam. It can be tricky to get the knife into the shell at first, but once you figure it out you will get better at it.
You want to make sure the knife does not go too deep; all you want to do is open the shell. Once the shell is open, rinse the clam again. Place the knife up the clam’s neck and cut it open. Rinse again. Cut the neck so you sever it 1/2 an inch from the top. Cut the meat away from the shell. Find the stomach (it is brown and full) and discard everything in it. Rinse the clam again and peel the skin off the neck.
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