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Closed mussels, eat or chuck?

Discussion in 'Cookery' started by camronfry, Jun 22, 2012.

  1. camronfry

    camronfry New commenter

    According to a few posters at the end of this Guardian article:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2012/jun/21/how-cook-perfect-moules-marinieres?INTCMP=SRCH
    Mussles that are still closed at the end of cooking are perfectly fine to eat.
    Their info seems to come mainly from those boffins at QI. I'm sure, like me, most people have been taught/told to chuck any unopened mussles as they're dead and consumption will see you develop a closer than desirable relationship with your toilet.
    Can any clever biologists, food scientists, or downright brainy people out there provide some good solid facts either way?
    I'm cooking mussles tonight and won't be experimenting with eating the closed ones.
    Also the author of the article puts the view forward that garlic is a bit of a quirky addition to moules marinieres and most 'proper' recipes don't include it. To me this is utter rubbish, loads of garlic is essential to a good pot of moules. Any thoughts?
     
  2. camronfry

    camronfry New commenter

    According to a few posters at the end of this Guardian article:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2012/jun/21/how-cook-perfect-moules-marinieres?INTCMP=SRCH
    Mussles that are still closed at the end of cooking are perfectly fine to eat.
    Their info seems to come mainly from those boffins at QI. I'm sure, like me, most people have been taught/told to chuck any unopened mussles as they're dead and consumption will see you develop a closer than desirable relationship with your toilet.
    Can any clever biologists, food scientists, or downright brainy people out there provide some good solid facts either way?
    I'm cooking mussles tonight and won't be experimenting with eating the closed ones.
    Also the author of the article puts the view forward that garlic is a bit of a quirky addition to moules marinieres and most 'proper' recipes don't include it. To me this is utter rubbish, loads of garlic is essential to a good pot of moules. Any thoughts?
     
  3. I can't give you any solid facts but I can tell you that I worked in a seafood restaurant for 12 years and we never, ever served closed mussels. Never poisoned anyone either......
    Always garlic, quirky or not!
     
  4. I read about this ages ago, when I seemed to be discarding a lot of mussels.
    Apparently it is Jane Grigson's fault and a myth link
    I have read a few fishery sites and none of them mention not eating closed ones - though all include the tap to see if they are alive hint!
     
  5. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    The idea, which makes sense, is that a dead mussel wouldn't be able to 'hold' the shells tighly closed.
    If you are going to eat closed shells, it's important to make sure none are dead before cooking - either by the usual tap on the side of the sink when washing or, more reliably, pushing the shells together - if there is a firm resistance and/or the shell closes up, they're still alive. If there's no resistance and it's at all 'floppy' or limp, it's probably dead.
    However, one that was partly open before cooking and still partly open after cooking could well have been dead. These are the ones to watch out for.
    Given that the last thing anyone would want is a dose of the gastrointestinal poisoning from a bad mussel, I'd say the best is to play it safe at both ends. Discard any that won't close or aren't resistant to a squeeze and then also discard any that won't open. I tend to take out any that are cooked and give any stubborn buggers half a minute more - most open then.
    Given that you usually lose, at most, 4 or 5 mussels, it's hardly the end of the world if it means you're not going to ruin your weekend with a healthy dose of the pukey shits.
    By no means essential, but who cares? Authenticity is stifling, go with what you fancy.
    I personally like just a scrap of garlic in my moules but that's just me.
     
  6. primarycat

    primarycat Star commenter

    My Mum, Gran and Mr PC have all has a bad mussel (in separate incidents) and not only were really sick but none of them could eat mussels after - don't know the science behind it but even good mussels cause them to throw up. My Mum was sick once on a soup made with stock with a few mussel shells in.

    I would always err on the side of caution - I love them and don't want to have to give them up!
     
  7. modelmaker

    modelmaker Occasional commenter

    Personally, I would take the risk. As nick says, there's only a few that don't open. Having said that, my sweetheart always eats the lot, only giving up on any where there's a possibility of breaking a nail trying to open them, and she's never suffered from it.
    Many years ago, on holiday in the South of France, I'd been fishing without any luck. All around me, attached to the rocks were mussels. I decided to fill a bag with them. As I'm not an expert on collecting and preparing seafood, I resorted to what I remembered reading in a book, which was to clean the mussels by leaving them in a pail of fresh water overnight.
    Anyway, the following day we went off to visit Carcassone and somewhere around that area came across a sign advertising a farm with a restaurant and accomodation. It turned out to be idyllic, the food remains among the best I've eaten and we decided to spend the night there...
    Getting back to the appartment the following day, we were hit by this awful stench that I traced to the pail of mussels. The clean water I'd put them in was now a foul brown colour. Since then I've left it to the experts to catch and prepare my seafood, and I don't take any risks at all with it. Always eaten on the day it's bought and none is ever saved.
     
  8. ljr

    ljr New commenter

    I'm just the same - I am really ill if there is a hint of mussel in a dish - and that is after eating one bad one in France many years ago. I always used to eat them without a problem - amd I love them! [​IMG]
     
  9. Mr Manny, seafood expert & ex-North Sea fisherman, says 'no, no, no, no' in a Churchill dog stylee.
     
  10. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    I am now craving moules!
    But this time next week will be en route to la belle France!
    So, first lunch will be tartiflette, first supper will be moules!
     
  11. Very, very definitely chuck closed mussels!
    You can eat closed mussels if they are still juice and plumpy - but in general, a closed mussel means it was already dead and unless you really know what you are looking for, I would be careful.
    It is better to be safe than sorry - a mussel that was already dead is going to give you a lot of stomach cramps, if not worse and as I have an ex still in hospital with fish poisoning, I would rather you played safe [​IMG]
     
  12. catmother

    catmother Star commenter

    I come from a region where mussels are a speciality and I've grown up being told that you never ever eat the closed ones.
     

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