Make sure they are Fresh

Fresh seafood! The very thought of a fresh seafood dinner makes the salivary glands come alive!

Such a variety of seafood exists that just choosing which one you want is as difficult for a seafood lover as choosing which candy to try is for a ten year old child in a candy store. The difference being that whichever seafood you might choose is good for you unless, of course, you are one of the unfortunate ones who are allergic to it.

For the purpose of this article, we will focus on shellfish, a readily available treat especially for those living in the vicinity of the ocean.

Ideally, one can make a trip to a coastal source of supply such as a seafood market or even a shellfish grower. Along the coast of the Pacific Northwest, one can find several oyster farms and particularly in Washington state, there are clam growers, many of which have retail stores connected with their operations.

By visiting one or more of these places, your chances of getting really fresh product increase simply because that is where it comes from.

Not only can fresh product be obtained at the above mentioned source, but usually one can pick up valuable tips for serving their tasty wares. They have a vested interest in making a happy consumer so take advantage of that fact.

Added benefits of visiting the source of supply is:

1. You can ask questions.

2. You can separate the facts from the “old wives’ tales” that seem to abound in regard to shellfish.

3. One can learn some very interesting points about shellfish, things your children can benefit from in their schoolwork. Sometimes, especially in off season times, the operators are willing to give tours that you will find very interesting about how those shellfish are grown and processed.

No matter where you buy your shellfish though, make sure they are fresh.

Oysters in the shell should be in tightly closed shells OR their shells should close when they are touched or moved. You want them to be still alive. Never eat one whose shell remains open when disturbed. That is a dead oyster and one can never tell how long it has been that way.

Buying oyster meat in the already shucked condition is simple if you are buying it in a container that has a date stamp on the lid. In the state of Oregon, at least, the date on the lid is two weeks past the shucking date. So, if you go to the oyster farm’s retail store, you are most likely going to get a product that will keep for two weeks under proper refrigeration. Don’t buy oyster meat that is very close to the pull date on the lid unless you are going to consume them right away.

What about steamer clams? Another delectable treat.

Clams, likewise, should close up when moved or touched. If you have purchased some and you notice that some are open and do not close, toss the open ones out! It’s not worth taking a chance. There are bacteria that can invade shellfish, or any other seafood for that matter, that can make one very sick.

Another point worth considering is keeping your shellfish cold while you transport them home. An ice chest will work nicely, but a word of caution. As ice melts, you need to have a way to drain it off the shellfish because the ice most likely is made with fresh water and shellfish will die if allowed to remain in fresh water for any length of time. So, it may be best to have the ice contained in bags or something that will keep the fresh water from standing on the shellfish.

Are you hungry yet? Why not serve up your favorite seafood tonight at home or visit your favorite seafood restaurant and treat yourself to a very healthful meal.