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How to Store Clams

When you have clams that have been cooked or left raw, you may have to store them, if you cannot consume them all at once. To retain the maximum taste and texture, you must store clams properly. Check out this article to find out the ways you can store clams.

This is a close look at a bucket of steamed clams with slices of lemon.

Clams are an excellent bivalve seafood that you can easily add to any dish to make it even better. At the same time, clams are delicious to eat and can be cooked in many different ways. The key is that you have to store them properly, or they will go bad, and you cannot eat them. Continue reading this article to find out how to store clams so you can enjoy them even longer. 

Related: Clams vs. Mussels | Clams vs. Oysters | Types of Clams | What to Serve with Steamed Clams | How to Clean Clams | Clam Alternatives

How to Store Live Clams

A close look at a bunch of live clams underwater.

Step One

You want to make sure that all of the clams are still alive, so you need to inspect them to make sure they are intact. It would be best if you threw away any dead or broken clams. If they are healthy, they will be tightly closed or open slightly. If they are open, they should close quickly when you tap them. If the clams float in water, they are no longer alive and should be thrown away. 

If there are any dead clams, throw them away quickly. Dead clams can contaminate any living clams. The clams should smell fresh. If they smell like fish, you should throw them away. A soft shell clam may not close all the way because they have a long neck. 

Step Two

Put the clams in a shallow dish in one layer. You want to make sure the clams can get air. Do not pile the clams on top of each other because they will suffocate and then die. When you put them in a single line, they can still breathe. Do NOT add fresh water. Fresh water will kill the clams. 

Step Three

Cover the dish with a damp towel. A damp towel prevents the clams from drying out while allowing them to get air. Do not cover them in plastic. A damp paper towel works in the place of a damp towel. 

Step Four

Place the dish with the clams in the back of your refrigerator. The back of the fridge is the coldest part of the fridge. Therefore, you want to keep the clams at a temperature of 32 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Step Five

You want to eat the clams within three days. The sooner you prepare them, the better they will be. If it is going to be longer than three days, you should freeze them. While they are in the fridge, you should check them daily and throw away any open shells. If you leave dead clams in the dish, they will release toxins that are dangerous to the other clams. 

How to Freeze Live Clams

Live Manila clams on ice displayed at a store.

Step One

When you want to freeze your live clams, you should rinse them with cold water before storing them. Then, using your fingers, gently scrub the fresh clams to remove any mud and grit from inside the shells. Do not rinse them with warm or hot water, as this will cause the shells to open. You want all the claims to be closed before you freeze them.

Step Two

Put the clams in a freezer bag that is airtight, making sure to remove all the air. You are able to fit more clams in a freezer bag than in a freezer container. However, you should be careful to use freezer bags because they resist moisture. Otherwise, the clams may get freezer burn.

Step Three

Label the bag with the clams with the date. The date is a reminder to you of how long the clams have been in the freezer. 

Step Four

Place the bag of clams in the back of the freezer, which is the coldest part of the freezer. This helps to preserve the clams, and they will taste better. Do not put the bag of clams on the freezer door. The bag will not have a constant source of cold air. 

Step Five

Make sure that you use the clam in three months. If you freeze them properly, they will stay fresh for up to three months. Beyond three months, they will not taste the same. 

Step Six

When you are ready to eat the frozen clams, thaw them by putting them in a colander and running them under cool water. The clean clams should defrost in a few minutes. Once you thaw the clams, please do not attempt to refreeze them. If you do not eat the defrosted clams in two days, throw them away. 

How to Freeze or Refrigerate Shucked Clams

An oyster being opened with a small pocket knife.

Step One

Once you shuck clams, they release a juice that is salty and sweet. This broth is called liquor. Keeping clams in the liquor is the best way to preserve clams and their flavor. Once you shuck the clams, pour the liquor over them. If they did not produce enough liquor, you could pour some clam juice over the clams.

Step Two

It would be best if you stored the clams and liquor in an air tight container. It can be a plastic bag or a plastic container, whichever you choose. It may be easier to store the clams and their liquor in a plastic container with rigid sides so you do not spill it. You want to leave about .5 inches of space at the top of the container. The liquor will expand as it freezes.

Step Three

If you plan to eat the clams in three days, you can store them in the fridge. Shucked clams will remain fresh for about two to three days in the fridge. Make sure you keep the clams in the back of the refrigerator.

Step Four

If you are not going to consume the clams within three days, you should store them in the fridge. You can leave the clams in the freezer for up to three months. Make sure you keep the clams in the back of the freezer.

Step Five

When you are ready to consume your frozen shucked clams, place them in the refrigerator overnight to thaw. This defrosts the clams gently, which is the best way to preserve their texture. This thawing process allows them to stay at a safe temperature while thawing. You do not want to leave them at room temperature because they make you sick. If you attempt to defrost the clams in the microwave, the clams will get rubbery. Do not refreeze the clams. Throw away the clams you do not consume in one to two days. 

How to Store Cooked Clams

A bunch of cooked clams on a wooden chopping board.

It is important to know that if a hard shell clam is not closed, you should not cook it. Butter clams will close completely. Raw clams should last up to seven days but a cooked clam will only last two to three days, even in the refrigerator.

If you want to store cooked clams, no matter if there are steamed clams, a littleneck clam, or razor clams, you can store them in an airtight container. This type of container will prevent bacteria and moisture getting to the clam meat. If you will not eat the little neck clams, manila clams, or grilled clams in three days, you should freeze them. 

Whenever you thaw clams that have been frozen, you cannot refreeze them. If you do not consume the clams, no matter if they are a steamer clam or other shellfish, you must throw them away.