I have some live clams in the refrigerator that I would like to freeze because I will not be able to use them in time. My question is, how will I know which are good when I steam them later. Will they open up like live clams even if frozen and will the bad ones stay closed? Otherwise, how can I tell which are good when cooked? Thank you.

5 Answers 5




Do not freeze clams in their shells. To freeze clams, shuck them, being careful to save their liquid. Rinse with salt water (1 tablespoon of salt to 1 quart of water), and place in a container with the reserved clam liquid and additional salt water so they are completely covered. Frozen clams will last up to 3 months at 0 degrees F. Thaw frozen clams in the refrigerator before using, and never refreeze them.

While About.com is not always the best, in this case their information passes the gut test. Frozen clams certainly would be killed, and so wouldn't open upon steaming.

The thing about never refreeze is almost certainly a palatability issue, not a safety issue, as long as they stay in the safe zone (under 40 degrees F) and are not unfrozen for very long--but clams are highly perishable. I would exercise considerable safety.

Sadly, I found conflicting information saying freezing them in the shell is okay--but they didn't offer any detail at all, so I its hard to give credence to:


despite their being a university sponsored site.

Being conservative, I would cook then freeze.


Clams are still alive when you freeze them and when thawed come back to life. That is how they live under water in the winter. They will be as good frozen as if you bought them from the seafood store. You can tell, once thawed, if they bounce back like a freshly shucked clam. I have had them for many years this way because we usually buy them by the bushel and cannot eat them all.

  • 2
    Hello, and welcome to Stack Exchange. This is really surprising to me, and I can't think of where clams live that require surviving being frozen. Where did you get this info? Oct 6, 2018 at 23:32
  • In the winter clams go under the sand and basically hibernate until the weather is warmer again. I live in an area that gets all 4 seasons and we have a boat, do a lot of fishing, digging for clams and crabbing. They don't go to the south, they just stay under the sand, mud, dirt. I just got a new fridge and found some clams in my fridge today. My daughter thought they were bad because we got these clams some 3 or 4 months ago. After thawing they responded just like a fresh clam does. My daughter didn't believe and she found this website. We just ate them and this wasn't the first time
    – user69700
    Oct 6, 2018 at 23:42
  • I highly doubt they are still alive after thawing, please back your answer with a reputable source confirming this.
    – JohnEye
    Oct 9, 2018 at 17:11

I had 6 doz fresh clams in fridge vegtable bin for 4 weeks by keeping a moist towel over top and little water on bottom, bottom clams froze to bin, thawed out and steamed all opened made clams casino , very good and tasty, so i suggest if any doubts do your own freeze test on a few fresh clams. Happy clams !!!


Welcome to the Arctic. Mollusks can survive freezing. If you're interested in some light reading, try--Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Physiology Volume 73, Issue 4, 1982, Pages 571-580

If not, steam your frozen clams. If they open, eat'em!

  • 1
    It would be nice to include the quote in the answer for those that don't have access to the book.
    – Luciano
    Dec 19, 2019 at 10:13

People you need to be carefull who you listen to about how to eat frozen shellfish,the best way to eat clams frozen is to boil them frozen for sure they will still open but just as good as live. clam man

  • 2
    "People you need to be carefull who you listen to about how to eat frozen shellfish..." -> So how would we know that we can trust you? Could you "flesh out" your answer a bit, please?
    – Stephie
    Oct 27, 2015 at 7:23

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