Clams have been around for more than 500 million years. They range from nearly microscopic to gigantic and can weigh up to 400 lbs. Clams live in both fresh and salt water. All clams are not considered edible, but all have hinged shells and are filter feeders. Clams have kidneys, a heart, a mouth, a stomach, a nervous system and an anus. Most clams reproduce by discharging sperm and eggs into the water where fertilization occurs.
Clams can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, baked or fried. Clams are eaten all around the worldand are most popular in North America, Japan, Italy, India, and Trinidad. All clams should be cooked gently to prevent toughening. Clams are high in protein and contain a good amount of calcium and iron. Clams are sold live in the shell, fresh or frozen shucked, and canned. When buying hard-shell clams in the shell, make sure the shells are tightly closed. If a shell is slightly open, tap it lightly. If it doesn’t snap shut, the clam is dead and should be discarded. Some of the healthiest and most popular clams are the Softshell clam, Butter clam, and Manila clam.
Clamshells have even been used as a form of currency amongst Native Americans called “wampum”.