Meaty Maine Mussels

by Letitia Baldwin
(The Ellsworth American)

Looking for a great, inexpensive source of protein that’s a cinch to cook and makes an elegant entrée or appetizer for diet-conscious guests in a pinch?

Grab a bucket, don a pair of waders and a mess of mussels can be picked quickly at low tide along the Maine coast without too much fuss. Unlike clams, mussels are plucked from the sea floor and don’t involve digging or demand so much bending of the back. Plus, the bluish-black mollusks are extra-lean, low in sodium and rich in protein and Omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, they contain more protein than T-bone steak, but one-quarter the calories, according to Maine’s Great Eastern Mussel Farms in Tenant’s Harbor.

Over the years, mussels have nudged their way back into favor in Maine. Native Americans and Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish immigrants knew better, but the mollusks were considered unfit to eat in New England until the mid-20th century. Like sea urchins or periwinkles, they were treated as trash that cluttered decks and lines. They were used mainly as bait for cod, hake, haddock and other bottom-feeding fish. Sandy Oliver, who edits the Food History News newsletter from her home on Islesboro, says eating mussels was a sign of poverty or shiftlessness in 19th-century New England.

Read entire article and three tasty recipes here.

Close View of a Mussel on the Half-Shell

Close View of a Mussel on the Half-Shell
Photographic Print

Curtsinger, Bill

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