Gathering Edible Shellfish

For a bounty of edible shellfish, you needn't venture out any father than the sand and rocks along the shore.

| March/April 1972

edible shellfish - quahog dipping

Edible shellfish abound along coastal areas of the U.S. This man is quahog digging in the soft sandy bottom.


Our people need go no further than the shore and shallow water to begin harvesting the sea. Edible shellfish in great variety and number live in the sand and rocks of the first fathom. They are all excellent sources of protein, lean and delicious.

Types of Shellfish

The quahog is called a cherrystone in its smallest sie (~2"), a little neck in medium sizes (~2"-4"), and a quahog in its largest sizes (~4"-6"). It is eaten raw or steamed in the case of the cherrystone or little neck, but the tough grandfather quahogs are reserved for stuffing and chowder.

The bay scallop is the sweetest morsel in the bivalve family. Because it is a rather special creature — a clam that gets around. Because it is fished with special methods and is a potential money crop, it is the subject of an article of its own.

The steamer, or softshell clam, is a seashore staple. Steamed, boiled, or as the star of its namesake, the clambake, it satisfies the body and soul of hunger. The maddening necessity of debearding — removing the black sheath from its long "neck" or siphon — makes it somehow more enticing, and more delicious.

Oysters in stew, broiled with spinach a la Rockefeller, steamed, or (for the initiated) raw, need little comment; they are the aristocracy of the order Mollusca.

The periwinkle is eaten, steamed, or baked in garlic butter, with justifiable gusto and unavoidable daintiness using a pin by the Portuguese here and by coastfolk of Europe, but Yankees avoid this amazingly plentiful snail of the rock and tide pool.

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