Freshwater shellfish-edible/

I enjoy sea clams and mussels-but what about their freshwater equivilents? i would assume that there isn’r much difference between the two species. anyway-do people dig clams in the graet lakes? What do they taste like? Or are they like most freshwater fish-of no commercial value?

I think that 1) they don’t taste that good, and 2) being bottom feeders, and seeing as lots of lakes in the US have high levels of mercury, PCPs, etc…, resulting in fish with high levels of toxins and heavy metals, then things like lake clams and muscles end up having an even larger amount of them.

But there are some freshwater shellfish that are eaten. Crawfish/crawdads probably being the most famous, but I have heard of people eating freshwater lobster and shrimp.

I remember swimming in the Thames at Wallingford some twenty-five years ago and encountering (by foot) what I thought were large numbers of pebbles of regular size on the river bottom - they turned out to be large freswater mussels. I don’t remember the species, but I know I looked them up in a book and it specifically noted that they weren’t considered edible, but there were several other freshwater species in the book that it said could be eaten, however, I understand they’re not fantastic to taste - kind of bland and muddy probably.

There are large populations of freshwater crayfish in the Thames now - so I don’t think I’d go swimming in it, but happily, they’re exceptionally edible - I’m going there to catch some on Monday with jjiimm, as it happens.

You can eat fresh water clams. I don’t know anybody that has ever done so. Many of the clams are protected species , so you’d have to be careful. The claims I’ve heard of being gathered are from the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers. You have to watch for bacteria or you can get sick. The major use of Mississippi clams is for seeding pearls.

Well, we caught a fair number of crayfish (nice, but heck, there’s a lot of shell and spikes for a little morsel of meat). I also - completely by accident - caught a freshwater mussel - it must have been open in just the right place for a trailing bit of plastic from my trap to fall into it and it clamped shut on it.

I’ve identified it as a Swan Mussel, but can’t find anything definitive on their edibilty. I contemplated experimentally eating it, but decided against the idea. They are apparently an indicator of comparatively clean water, but I reckon if they were edible and great-tasting, there would be at least a few websites where someone or other was raving about eating them. Shame, because I reckon they’re probably quite substantially meaty inside that shell.

Interestingly, I discovered that the larval stage of these mussels is parasitic upon fish - the larva attaches itself to a fish and feeds on its blood until it is large enough to srop off and start filter feeding. I guess if this were not so, they wouldn’t be able to colonise a river against the flow.

Hold on now. As noted, crawfish are a big industry in Louisiana and they are farmed. Catfish are also farmed throughout the South especially in Mississippi and they are almost unsurpassed among all food fish except for the Walleye which can’t be farmed. Trout are another great freshwater food fish and they are also farmed. Freshwater certainly does not equal inferior. I have played around with freshwater mussels when swimming. I always thought that they would taste muddy but I am not sure. Catfish are also muddy bottom feeders but they can be cooked into high cuisine,

Might I inquire as to the location on the Thames/Isis where you found your Swan Mussel (anodonta cygnea)? It’s apparently an indicator of very clean water; it does, however, tend to concentrate toxins, so your reluctance to eat same is quite understandable (although it may require an asterisk[sup]*[/sup] to be placed next to your username :wink: ). These people suggest that one runs the risk of growing breasts or a third eye :eek:.

According to “The edible mollusks of Great Britain and Ireland, with recipes for cooking them”, by M S. Lovell (1867):

As it turns out, Google has the book digitized here; the above quote is at the bottom of page 62. Now, the mid-19[sup]th[/sup]C residents of County Leitrim might not have had an overabundance of food sources, so their willingness to eat the Swan Mussel should perhaps not be taken as a ringing endorsement to the 21[sup]st[/sup]C gourmet. Also, note that the cite says that the peasants ate the mussel, not that they survived the ordeal. They’re all deceased now anyway, leaving behind no websites extolling the culinary delights of said mollusk.

Addressing the OP; in this thread from a year ago, the aforementioned jjimm referred to the tasty crayfish in the Isis (i.e. the Thames as it passes through Oxford).

[ [sup][/sup]Il mange tout, à l’exception de certaines moules.]*

I ate freshwater mussels in Fiji a few years ago. A bit gritty and not wonderfully tasty, but I suffered no ill effects.

During a backpacking trip where food we planed on did not arrive we went for crawdads and fresh water mussels. I had what would be considered a ‘normal’ sized serving of them for 3 meals, meaning enough to feel filled, no ill effects. They were bland, and had a much milder taste to their salt water counterparts, we also had some spices which helped out a bit, but they didn’t taste bad and we would have eaten them w/o the spices if we had none. IIRC the mussels were a bit gritty however.

Glad to hear that. We caught 27 crayfish and the mussel right here (O/S Grid reference SP 498 073). Catching time was about three hours - though if we’d have had some traps we could have left down for a few hours we’d have probably got a lot more - and preparation another one and a half, and they yielded a mere bowlful of meat. It was good fun nonetheless, but I think in a post-apocalyptic situation I’d be going for rats.

Thanks for the clarification! Looks like you were right across from Port Meadow, near The Perch (which appears to have suffered a fire and subsequent closure, alas).

It seems as though that bon vivant Mangetout had quite a busy weekend, all told!

As jjimm says, it was off Port Meadow, to the north-west of Oxford city centre. We also observed a number of empty mussel shells collected behind a weir. I reckon they’re probably quite abundant there.

Well… that’s annoyingly nonspecific! - I need to know which of these will actually happen! - a third eye I could totally use, but while breasts would be interesting, I’d probably never leave the house.

I found an article that said they were most active during the night, which sort of ties in with the midday lull in catching we experienced - I reckon we might have caught a lot more if we’d moved into the deep shade, but as you say, the effort of catching and shelling them runs close to exceeding the energy available from eating them (making them an ideal diet food perhaps?).

Do you know anywhere we can catch enough rats for a decent meal, BTW?

I grew up in Canada, and ate freshwater clams from the forest lakes myself as a child (only once or twice). I’ve met a few people who eat them (one of them was from Central America), but it’s not very common.

Come to think of it, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources publishes an extensive and comprehensive guide to eating fish caught in the various lakes in the province, but I don’t think anything exists for invertebrates. So it’s probably not seen as important enough to do so, though it’s clearly not deadly to eat them on occasion.

What were they like?

I could sleep on a clothes line.