Mussel Madness Has Begun!

By: Jack Gridley | VP of Meat & Seafood
On: February 27, 2015

Call it the first sign of spring, the top seeds are being picked and the brackets are being drawn up. We have our personal favorites, but let’s root for them all! I’m not talking college basketball here — it’s Mussel Madness! Sure chicken wings are great when watching a ball game, but try one of nature’s perfect food sources. Mussels are healthy and nutritious, and have the same protein content per weight as beef with only a quarter of the calories.

Rich in vitamin C, zinc, and heart-healthy omega-3s, they’re the perfect ‘three-point shot.’ Not only are they nutritious, but mussels are remarkably versatile. Traditionally steamed, they can be baked, fried, pickled, or smoked. In terms of complementary flavors, the mellow mussel tastes equally great when prepared in beer, wine, or your favorite sauce. And if you’re looking for a fast-food option, mussels can be steamed in just 8-10 minutes. Once they pop open, just toss them with your favorite seasonings and enjoy.

Blue Mussels are cultured and grow wild in the colder waters of Maine and Canada. Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland produce about 80% of the cultured mussels produced in North America. These mussels are cultured from wild seed stock that is collected on hanging ropes in the spring. They are then transferred to socks (long mesh sleeves) that are attached to buoy lines and suspended in the water column in protected bay and shallow estuaries. Because they are suspended in the water column, they have greater access to the rich nutrients in the water, protection from predators, and cleaner shells. The rich nutrients, salinity of the water, and high tidal swings are what give these mussels their superior flavor.

Mussels traditionally were said to be at their peak in months that have an “r”in them because they are not spawning and in a weakened state, but with the proper monitoring great quality mussels are available year round.

This time of year, mussels are being harvested through the ice. Saws cut through the ice up to 4 feet thick and divers go down to hook up a line suspended 6 feet deep to a winch, and then pull out of the frozen bay. The mussels are taken out of the socks and cleaned up, sorted, and shipped all over the world alive. Mussels can be stored alive for up to a week. Keep them cold (above freezing) and damp by covering with a wet cloth. Never rinse with fresh water or leave them in water until ready to cook.

Join us this March for Mussel Madness! Every day in March we will be preparing mussels in several variations at Jack’s Grill. Order up a bowl of steamed mussels with your favorite sauce from 11 a.m. till 7 p.m. Different variations each week while supplies last!