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Should I Rinse Canned Clams? [Explained]

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Are you planning to try your hand at cooking a delicious clam recipe and wondering should I rinse canned clams before cooking?

Interestingly, this won’t be the only question bothering you. You will have other doubts as well concerning clams as you go further in preparation. 

This article will help you clear all these doubts while you prepare the clam and how to treat it for ideal taste.

Should I Rinse Canned Clams? 

No, do not rinse canned clams before using them. It is required to reserve all the clam liquid that is in it – as that’s what makes up the base of the clam sauce. However, they sometimes get rubbery and other times gritty.

But, if cooked properly, clams do not get overly chewy, and if cleaned properly, they won’t be gritty. And, the recipe will turn out to have the best taste.

If clams are new for you to prepare, you might get caught up with different doubts before every single step you go forward with it.

After reading this complete article, you will have all the satisfactory answers with you. Let’s begin with the most common quest concerning clams.

What Is The Use Of Liquid In Canned Clams?

Clam juice, the liquid of shucked clams, is frequently used as a cooking liquid for seafood dishes.

Canned clams are used for recipes that compliment only the meat of the clams. You can buy them whole or chopped.

Please note, as, with most canned products, canned clams are richer in sodium than fresh clams. 

What Is In A Can Of Clams? And What Do They Taste Like?

If you buy canned clams from the supermarket and wonder what those cans have in them? You will find minced, chopped, or whole baby clams.

Other than these, you can also find smoked clams and clam juice, either bottled or canned. Generally, Canned clams have a sweet flavor and have a firm texture.

Which Clam Is Better – Canned Or Fresh?

If it is a comparison, then canned one cannot beat fresh clams as the fresh clam offers you briny ocean flavor and a tender texture. If you consider a home cook clam, canned clams offer much.

  • Firstly, they do not need additional cooking once you open a can as the canning process has cooked clams.
  • Canned clams are shelf-stable, which means they are ready to use when you want.
  • While using canned clams, there is less wastage than fresh clams.
  • Canned clams are budget-friendly, whereas fresh clams are costly, especially when you buy them as per their quantity or weight in pounds, including shells covering the clam meat, which has no use.
  • Fresh clams can’t overcome the convenience of cooking provided by canned clams.

How Can You Use Canned Clams?

Fresh clams do have a lot of variety when it comes to cooking different recipes, but that doesn’t mean that canned clams can be used for only limited options. Some recipes that go best with canned clams are: 

  • Chowders and Stews: Canned clams having minced, chopped, and whole baby clams compliments a portion of chowder or seafood stew. A Manhattan-style chowder needs to use both canned and fresh clams. 
  • Pasta and Rice Dishes: Classic Spaghetti and Clam sauce compliments each other with canned clams. You can also replace using fresh clams with canned clams. It reduces your efforts in extracting clams from the fresh clams.
  • Salads and Appetizers: You can use whole baby clams and replace fresh clams in cold seafood dishes, such as ceviche and Seafood salad. If speared on a toothpick, Canned smoked clams make a tasty addition to a snack board. An old-school clam dip is best if made with minced clams.

How Do You Know When Clams Are Matured?

Cooked clams shells will open on their own when they are matured. If any clams don’t get open, they must be removed as they are assumed to be dead.

Shucked clam meats will change to opaque and firm-textured, and their edges will curl slightly.

How Do You Get Clams To Open?

  • Use a towel to hold the clam facing the hinge towards you.
  • Insert a knife delicately into the gap between the shell halves.
  • As enough of the knife gets inserted into the clamshell, twist the wrist holding the knife to open the shell wide.

How To Clean Clams?

Cleaning clams include removing sand, salt, or other grit, and it is crucial for food safety. After removing bad clams, soaking, and scrubbing, you can clean clams and prepare for cooking.

Removing Bad Clams

  • It would be best if you used a spoon, your finger, or a countertop to tap any damaged clams with open shells. If any clams do not get close while tapping, you should avoid them as it indicates they are dead and not suitable for cooking and eating. 
  • Damaged clamshells are prone to bacteria making the clam unhealthy to eat. Throw and waste down every cracked, broken, or damaged clam. 
  • After removing damaged clams, place the remaining in a bowl of water.

If you see any clams floating on the surface, remove them immediately as they are dead. The toxins from dead clams can persist even after cooking and can harm you if you eat.

Soaking The Clams

  • Submerge the good clams in a bowl of water. The water can be fresh or saltwater. Soaking methods vary depending on which type of water you use. Saltwater is frequently used as an effective method because it provides a natural habitat for cleaning the clams.
  • To soak the clams in salt water, mix 100 grams of salt with 3.8 liters of water. Leave the clams in salt water for 30 minutes. Use your hands to take the clams out of the saltwater. Make another bowl of the same mixture in the same amount and soak the clams again. Repeat two more times.
  • If using freshwater, submerge the clams in a bowl of water that has a slightly cool temperature. Leave the clams for 20 minutes to an hour. The clams will separate themselves from any salt, sand, or other grit on their own during this time.
  • You can add cornmeal to the soaking water as it helps clean the grit from the clams while soaking. This can change the taste of the clams to slightly sweeter.
  • Remove clams from the bowl with your hands. Please do not use a strainer as the debris from the clams gets stored at the bottom of the bowl, and lifting them out by hand will prevent recontamination of the clams.
  • Scrub the clams with a sturdy brush and rinse the clams under running water to remove any remaining grit from the outside shell.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can You Use The Liquid In Canned Clams?

If you are using fresh clams, you need to drain the clams and reserve the juice. If you are using canned clams, you need to drain them and reserve the liquid.

How Long Do Canned Clams Last After You Have Opened Them?

If you need to maximize the shelf life of opened canned clams, you need to refrigerate them after keeping them in a glass or plastic container. If refrigerated continuously, they can last for three to four days.

Can You Get Sick From Canned Clams?

If bad quality clams are eaten, they can result in food poisoning ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to memory loss to paralysis and death. The Majority of people are aware of these side effects.

Should I Rinse Canned Clams?

No, you shouldn’t. As it makes up the recipe’s base, you should, however, reserve all the liquid in the can.

  1. Is it okay to eat expired canned clam sauce?
  2. Generally, canned foods expire from 1 to 4 years. But if you keep the canned food in a cool, dark place and the cans remain in good condition and undented, you can easily double their shelf life from 3 to 6 years.

How Do You Tenderize Canned Clams?

To tenderize the canned clams, you need to be delicate while handling them. This is why the heat will cause the meat to break down. While using a sharp knife, you must be aware not to cut into the clam’s acidity and not nick the shell.

The knife must then be placed against the clam’s flesh close to the bone, causing the liquid to draw off. Then, the tenderized clams are left to cool before serving.


As you now know, we have answered all your possible queries related to clams, from should I rinse the canned clams to how they should be handled after that. You can go further and start with the preparation.

We are sure you will make the best clam recipe. We hope this article has helped you. Have a good day ahead!