Two summers ago, I got my first recreational clamming license. I really wanted to learn to forage, but I was nervous about teaching myself. I also felt like I needed a little guidance if I wanted to learn to fish, but I thought I might be able to learn to clam. Why clamming? Well, this part of New England is pretty big on clams, so it seemed like a good way to learn more about the place I now call home, and I thought it would be fun. Why not?
The only problem was, I didn’t actually know any clammers, despite the fact that it’s a big industry around here. (We even have a Shellfish Constable. Isn’t that the coolest?) So, I turned to books and the internet. Just in case you share the same interest (You were probably hoping I would post on this, right?), I thought I would point you toward the resources I used to get started.
First up: The Compleat Clammer by Christopher R. Reaske.
This book is an interesting read on more than just clams (as you can see from the book cover). It tells you about clams and other shellfish, where and how to find them and how to “catch” them (it’s not like they really run away, but they do dig), and how to prepare them for eating afterward. It also has an interesting trivia section. Here are a few pictures from the book:
This was a great book for learning about the different tools I would need both for clamming and in the kitchen. It was also really interesting.
Next up: Clams: How to Find, Catch and Cook Them by Curtis J. Badger. While The Compleat Clammer is written by a New Englander, Clams is written by a Virginian. It was great to get a bit of a look at clamming in another part of the country. While much of the information in the two books overlaps, every region has slight differences, so I say, read widely and learn as much as you can!
Clams gives good strategies for those with and without a boat as well as interesting history and lots of good recipes.
I also spent time on Google and YouTube looking for clamming and cooking videos. One of the most helpful, was this one on “How to Open Clams” by Rich Vellante of Legal Seafoods.
I also had to learn about tides and how they worked (Google it!) and read the town’s shellfish laws. No illegal clamming for me! It was a fun learning experience, but the part I love the most is being outside, knowing the beach and ocean better, and being able to bring home treasures for my family that we can actually eat! It’s so cool!
If you have the chance, I hope you try it. And don’t worry! More information on clamming will follow. I’m sure you were worried, but you don’t have to be any more. 😉