Non-opening clams not to be eaten?

I boiled up some clams tonight, and I’ve often heard and read in cookbooks that you are to discard any clams that do not open.

Tonight’s clams had a 100% opening success rate, but i’ve thrown away non-opening and partial-opening clams in the past.

OK, is this BS or not? Why do clams open when boiled in the first place? Why do some clams not open? Why is my life so empty that I am asking this in the middle of the night?

I await your answers.

I’ve heard that the clams which don’t open up are dead and therefore not fresh. Which implies that the clams are still alive when they open up in response to the heat. Why they do this, I have no idea.

Also, normally you have to leave clams in water overnight to make them get rid of sand. You can’t do that with a dead clam, so I’d guess the ones that don’t open contain a lot of sand.

Yes, the dead (and thus probably spoiled) ones will not open.

If you want to make sure your clams expel their sand, cover them with water, then sprinkle them with corn meal. This’ll force them to expel all their grit and crud.

How about posting some good clam recipes? I like steamed clams (although I don’t know how to steam them… is there a special “clam steamer”?) with marinara sauce.

“I must leave this planet, if only for an hour.” – Antoine de St. Exupéry

Are you a turtle?

Whoa! My mom taught us that the dead ones are always open, and you aren’t supposed to eat them if they don’t close when you handle them. Which is right?

Oh well, I suppose the bottom line is that they’re OK if they move at all.

I used to work a raw bar during the college summers. In my experience, clams that don’t open are either dead and rotten, or they just haven’t been cooked long enough. If you take a knife and pop open a cooked clam that hasn’t opened, you’ll see either something that looks like mud–bad clam, or an undercooked clam; cook it some more–it’s still good.

Not all clams are created equal and they don’t open at the same rate; bigger clams usually take longer to open.

The key is not to overcook them, so I always removed them as they popped open when I prepared an order, ensuring all the clams were evenly cooked.

Fretful Porpentine–I forgot to add, in response to your question, clams will open up; to tell it’s still alive, simply squeeze the shell briefly–it it pops back open, the clam is dead.

Same deal for crawfish whose tails aren’t curled under their bodies after being boiled. Dead to begin with.