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Mussels Myths Debunked

When preparing mussels most people abide by the rule that any mussels still closed after cooking should be thrown away. However, some scientists claim this is simply an old wives' tale and that the rule is actually a myth. Nick Ruello, an Australian fisheries biologist, cooked and ate more than 30 batches of mussels for a seafood report. Of those mussels, 11.5 percent were still closed after cooking, but Ruello found he could safely eat each one of them after forcing the mussels open with a knife.

The abductor muscles in live mussels keep the two halves of the shell together. When the shellfish are cooked, the heat denatures the proteins of (pardon the pun) mussels' muscles, so they come unstuck from their shells. However, even if the abductor muscles refuse to disintegrate in the heat, the meat has been cooked at a high enough temperature that it is safe enough to eat.

The one exception? If mussels are open before they've been cooked (and don't close up tightly when tapped), then they're dead, and not fresh enough to eat under any circumstance. Have you ever pried open a cooked mussel that was closed shut? Will this new piece of information change the way you eat the shellfish?


Join The Conversation
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i don't eat mussels, and i have to say that after reading this - as much as i appreciate the education, i'm not any more inclined to give up being a vegetarian to try them.
yaksmilk yaksmilk 8 years
Wait, I don't get it ... if they're closed when you tap them before cooking, they're dead? So tap all yer mussels pre-cook?
DivaDivine DivaDivine 8 years
Yeah, I've eaten them. As a student I'd frequent an Egyptian place that made the most amazing mussels. Throwing one away seemed insane (I also didn't know about this rule). I get food poisoning from EVERYTHING so if there was some sort of health detriment to be had from eating unopened mussels, I'd have felt it by now ;)
Mesayme Mesayme 8 years
You know mussels look really cousin and I joke that it's as close as we're ever gonna get to know. :ROTFL:
Mesayme Mesayme 8 years
You have no idea how many of these things I've thrown away!!! All that wasted money...crap :IRK: I'll just pry it open.
shoneyjoe shoneyjoe 8 years
I've been bold enough to attempt to pry them open (I do so with clams that don't open) and now I know I'm right. Sweet.
356UIK 356UIK 8 years
Wow everyone always told me not to eat those! Now I can tell them they're wrong! :)
simplyfab87 simplyfab87 8 years
Wouldn't eat it either way. The only things I eat from the sea are fish and shrimp. Everything else scares me.
syako syako 8 years
It reminds me of crawfish - if the tail is stiff and straight after boiling, toss it, it was dead when it was thrown in the pot and therefore not good to eat.
suziryder suziryder 8 years
I don't eat mussels....
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