Mussels are a great seasonal meal as they reach their peak during the autumn and winter months. Fresh mussels, which are a popular delicacy in the Mediterranean region, are also largely consumed in the Netherlands, France and Denmark. Mussels and other seafood are a great way to eat a healthful meal high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in saturated fats. Eating mussels is even beneficial in the development of growing children, as it helps with their heart health. Properly buying, cooking and preserving seafood, especially mussels, is essential for safe and healthy eating.
Buy fresh mussels at a local supermarket or speciality meat store. Look for tightly closed shells when choosing mussels. Tap on open mussels and if they close, they are safe to eat. Avoid all open mussels, as they are dead and can be hazardous to your health.
Rinse the mussels in warm water to wash away surface build-up. Open the mussel shells by steaming them in a pressure cooker for 4 minutes at 115 degrees C. Keep an eye on the meat, as too much longer in the pressure cooker can cause the mussels to shrivel.
Boiling fresh mussels is another method of cooking them. Boil water at 100 degrees C, and cook the mussels for about 6 minutes. They are sterilised after the first 2 minutes, but it is essential to fully cook the meat.
Remove your mussels from the pressure cooker or pot and quickly spray them with cool water. This will help the meat stay soft and fresh. Remove the mussel meat by hand and toss the shells and beards, or byssus. Pack some mussels in a small waxed carton, about 3 inches by 2 inches, and place in a freezer. Keep the temperature of the freezer at --6.67 degrees C. The mussels can remain unharmed for up to 8 or 9 months under these conditions.
Adding a pinch of salt to the boiling water or rinsing the mussel meat with cool salted water can improve the taste of the mussels while they freeze. Thaw mussels in a salt solution, as this can improve the flavour.
Do not simply freeze mussels, as they are from the supermarket in their shells. This will only kill them and waste good meat.
Tips and warnings
- Adding a pinch of salt to the boiling water or rinsing the mussel meat with cool salted water can improve the taste of the mussels while they freeze.
- Thaw mussels in a salt solution, as this can improve the flavour.
- Do not simply freeze mussels, as they are from the supermarket in their shells. This will only kill them and waste good meat.