A detailed video & step by step tutorial on How to Clean Clams. This method is the best and easiest way to purge sand from clams! Use this guide when you need clams for the recipe!

Clams being cleaned over a wire rack.

Why We Need to Clean Clams

Live clams filter out sand and saltwater out of their systems when they breathe. Clams that you caught at the beach definitely need to be purged, but how about ones you get from the supermarket?

You are watching: How To Clean Clams For Cooking

You may think the clams at the store are ready to be cooked, and some packages may say “cleaned”. However, the clams haven’t thoroughly purge sand yet. Besides sand, clams emit poop, dirt, and saltwater constantly as they are alive! So I still recommend cleaning the clams when you get home.

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The worst experience is that while you’re enjoying clams, you crunch into gritty clam in your dish. It happened to me before for those “cleaned” clams. Don’t take a risk and ruin your meal.

When to Clean Clams

The best time to clean clams is when you come home from grocery shopping (or clamming at the beach). Refrigerated clams slow down and it will take more time to purge. So sooner the better!

Different Ways to Clean Clams

There are various articles on the Internet on how to clean clams and each method will probably work just fine. In the US, popular methods include the use of cornmeal to get the sand out of clams. Clams purge the sand and grit out by ingesting the cornmeal.

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In Japan, the most common method is by using simple saltwater. Fishermen and housewives all use this method and that’s how I clean clams, too. If you are interested in the Japanese way, here’s how we do it.

What You’ll Need

  • Salt – It is important to make salt water as close to seawater as possible. The salt concentration of seawater is about 3%.
  • Water
  • Flat tray (or large bowl)
  • Wire rack (or large sieve) – will explain in the instructions
  • Aluminum foil
  • Brush

3 Easy Steps

  1. Make salt water.
  2. Let the clams purge in salt water for 1 hour.
  3. Clean and ready to use!

Check the detailed instructions below and see how to do each step.

Clam Recipes on Just One Cookbook

  • Japanese Clear Clam Soup
  • Japanese Clam Miso Soup
  • Clam Pasta
  • Sake Steamed Clams
  • Grilled Little Neck Clams
Clams being cleaned over a wire rack.

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on March 01, 2011. New images have been added and the blog content has been updated.

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