How to Collect Sea Mussels

Mussels on a cliff.
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-100
What You'll Need
Cool bag or box
Anti-slip shoes
What You'll Need
Cool bag or box
Anti-slip shoes

It is not hard to collect sea mussels. With the right preparation, mussels can be easily gathered at the sea and enjoyed at the dining table.

Step 1 - Check the Condition of the Harvesting Area

Sea mussels typically attach on wave-washed rocks together with their large colonies. Unlike oysters, mussels can live happily in a heavily polluted area. The poison that these mussels carry when feeding at this contaminated area does not go away in the cooking process. So the first thing that you have to do before harvesting any mussels is to check if the area is polluted.

Basically, if the beach where you do the harvest is secluded and far from any sewer outlet, the mussels are good to eat. Still, the safest way to deal with this is to contact the local Port Health Officer and confirm whether there is any ban on collecting seafood due to sea pollution.

Step 2 - Get a Tide Timetable

Once you know that the mussels are safe to eat, you need to have a tide timetable for the harvesting area. With the varied tide times even only a few miles apart, it is wise to know which part is best to collect mussels and at which time. The best moment to do the harvest is during a low spring tide. When the water goes as low as a meter under, the surf rocks will be exposed with large colonies of delicious mussels.

Step 3 - Don't Pluck Dead Mussels

One principle thing to bear in mind about mussels is that live ones are always shut when they are in the air. If you see open mussels, it means that they are dead already and they are not good to eat. Discard them immediately. The only time the shells are going to open is when the mussels are cooked.

Step 4 - Take Only Grown, Big, and Juicy Mussels

Fresh mussels.

Have a cool bag or box to keep your plucked mussels. Then start taking the mussels from the rock. Avoid harvesting very small mussels so that they have the chance to grow big. Do not take mussels with a damaged shell either.

Step 5 - Cover the Mussels with Seaweed

When you have a satisfying number of mussels in your cool box, grab some seaweed and put it on top of the stored mussels. This will keep them fresh and alive until they are ready to cook.

Step 6 - Store Mussels

Put the sea mussels in a plastic bag along with the seaweed and store them in the salad drawer in the fridge. This means that you need to remove any vegetables stored there before. This way you have up to two days to cook your mussels.

Step 7 - Wash Sea Mussels Before Cooking

Remember not to wash your mussels with fresh water until you are about to cook them. It will kill them quickly if you do that.