I bought my steamer clams yesterday, they've been in my fridge for just 24 hours. They were sitting on ice at the grocery store and at the time they were all closed. When I went to get them tonight, they were all partly (?) open with brown tongues sticking out and while they seem to be alive, because the tongue contracts when touched, they don't close up any more than they are already.

I've never cooked with clams before and don't really know if this is normal and they're fresh and fine or this means they've gone bad.

my clams

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    Simple test: before cooking, gently tap the slightly open shells. If they close, they're alive and therefore safe to cook & eat. If they don't close, they're dead and should be discarded. Once they've been cooked, the opposite case is the test: if they've opened up, they're safe to eat. If they remain closed, they were dead when the cooking began, and they should be discarded before serving the remainder. Nov 8 at 16:45
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    Well, they didn't really close up when tapped, but when cooked they opened, and they were delicious - no bad smell, no bad taste. So....idk.... Nov 8 at 19:55

1 Answer 1


If they are still alive - shells closing or siphons moving - then they are still good. I store mine on a bit of crushed ice in a colander set over a bowl to catch the meltwater. I think it keeps them a bit fresher for longer but you shouldn't be storing them for more than a day or so in any case.

Edit: also, some clams like quahogs and some soft shells won't close completely even if they are fresh since the siphon can't be completely retracted.

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