How To Get Sand Out Of Mussels And Clams – A Guide

Welcome to Pier Market Seafood Restaurant, where we pride ourselves on serving the best clam chowder in San Francisco! Our commitment to sourcing the freshest clams and mussels ensures that every bite of our renowned clam chowder or delectable stemmed mussels take you on a culinary journey that captures the essence of the sea. Our succulent clams and mussels are the heart and soul of our famous dishes, and we want to share our secrets on how to prepare them perfectly. In this article, we’ll delve into the art of cleaning clams and mussels to ensure they are deliciously tender, sand-free, and ready to elevate your dining experience. So, join us as we unlock the secrets behind our mouthwatering dishes and embark on a gastronomic adventure that celebrates the essence of San Francisco’s coastal flavors.

how to get sand out of musselshow to get sand out of mussels

How to Prep Clams and Mussels: The Basics

Before we dive into the specific techniques, let’s first understand the basics of preparing clams and mussels. Both these shellfish varieties require careful cleaning to eliminate sand and debris that can detract from their delicate flavors. This is a crucial step that lays the foundation for an exquisite dining experience. Whether you’re planning to savor our famous clam chowder or indulge in a succulent mussels marinara, taking the time to ensure these shellfish are impeccably clean will enhance their natural flavors and elevate your culinary journey with us at Pier Market Seafood Restaurant or at home. Here’s what you need to know:

How to Purge Clams Before Eating

how to get sand out of mussels

Purging is a crucial step in cleaning clams and mussels. If you’re wondering how to prep clams, or how to purge mussels, or how to get sand out of clams this will help! This step helps to remove any grit or sand they might have accumulated. This is done to ensure that each bite has a taste of pure ocean freshness.

At Pier Market Seafood Restaurant, we take great care in this process to deliver the most exceptional quality shellfish to our customers.Start by placing your shellfish in a large bowl of cold water. Add a generous amount of salt and let them soak for about 20 minutes. The shellfish will filter the water, expelling any impurities and leaving you with cleaner, more enjoyable clams and mussels. allowing the natural osmosis allows a symphony of flavors that showcase the true essence of our clams and mussels, tantalizing your taste buds with every delectable morsel.

How to Get Sand Out of Mussels and Clams

Mussels and clams often have sand trapped inside their shells, which can spoil the dining experience. To get rid of this pesky grit, gently scrub the shells under cold running water. Make sure to remove any barnacles or debris from the exterior as well. Be thorough but careful not to damage the delicate flesh inside.

Cleaning Clams with Cornmeal (mussels too!)

At Pier Market, we have found a unique way to ensure our clams and mussels are exceptionally clean and sand-free – using cornmeal! This traditional technique is simple and highly effective.

How to Clean Clams with Cornmeal

Step 1:

In a large bowl, combine cold water with a generous amount of cornmeal. Stir until the cornmeal forms a slurry-like consistency.

Step 2:

Add the clams to the cornmeal mixture and let them soak for 30 minutes to an hour. As the clams feed on the cornmeal, they will naturally expel any sand or debris they might have ingested.

Step 3:

Rinse the clams thoroughly under cold running water to remove any excess cornmeal and expelled sand. Your clams are now ready for cooking, and you can trust that they are as clean as can be!

How to Clean Clams for Steaming

Steaming clams is a classic way to enjoy their sweet, briny taste, and it’s essential to have them properly cleaned beforehand. Follow this step by step guide on how to clean clams. 

Step 1:

Purge the clams by soaking them in a saltwater solution as explained earlier. Basically get sand out of clams. 

Step 2:

Scrub the shells under cold running water to remove any dirt or debris.

Step 3:

Once you’ve purged and scrubbed the clams, they are ready to be steamed to perfection. Place them in a pot with a small amount of water or broth and steam for about 5-7 minutes, or until the shells open. Discard any clams that remain closed after cooking.

Our Favorite Preparations of Clams And Mussels

cooked clams

Indulging in clams and mussels can be a delightful culinary adventure, and at Pier Market Seafood Restaurant, we believe in savoring these succulent treasures in the best way possible. The key to enjoying clams and mussels lies in preserving their natural flavors while complementing them with simple yet enticing accompaniments. 


For clams, you must try our award winning clam chowder. This is far and away the most popular choice among our patrons. Delicately cooked in a flavorful broth with garlic, white wine, and a touch of butter, the tender clams release their briny essence, offering a burst of sea-inspired joy with each bite. Try it in our sourdough bread bowl, this dish allows you to soak up the delectable broth, adding another layer of richness to your dining experience.


When it comes to mussels, our steamed mussels are a must-try, showcasing the perfect harmony of fresh mussels and a rich red curry coconut broth. The plump, juicy mussels are cooked to perfection, absorbing the flavors of the curry sauce, making each spoonful a delightful journey through coastal Mediterranean cuisine. Served over a bed of al dente linguine, this dish combines the best of land and sea, creating a symphony of taste and textures that leave you craving more. 

To truly immerse yourself in the culinary bliss of clams and mussels, pair these dishes with a chilled glass of crisp white wine or a local craft beer, and let the flavors meld together for a truly unforgettable dining experience.

Unforgettable Clam Chowder – you can do it too!

Clam Chowder Cup

At Pier Market Seafood Restaurant, we take great pride in serving the best clam chowder in San Francisco. It all starts with the exceptional quality of our clams and mussels. By following our tried-and-true techniques for cleaning clams and mussels, you can elevate your culinary skills and enjoy these delectable shellfish to their fullest. We hope that this guide helped answer any questions you may have had about how to get sand out of mussels. We know it will help you create culinary masterpieces. 

So, whether you’re preparing a steaming pot of clam chowder or a classic plate of steamed mussels, rest assured that your seafood will be clean, tender, and utterly delicious. Now, go ahead and create your own seafood masterpiece. Experience the taste of San Francisco’s finest shellfish, just like we do at Pier Market Seafood Restaurant! And now you can do it with clean shellfish!

Visiting Pier Market

pier market exterior

Pier Market isn’t just known for its world-famous clam chowder. It’s also an incredible place to take in the sights and sounds of PIER 39. It has an incredible view overlooking the San Francisco Bay. You have a vantage point to see some of the most iconic landmarks in San Francisco. If you want to dine with a clear view of the golden gate bridge or look out at alcatraz from your dinner table, Pier Market is the place. We also serve up 100% sustainable seafood. And it makes for the perfect place to celebrate all of life’s big moments. We have an incredible private dining room. If you’re looking for restaurant wedding ideas, Business dinner ideas, or restaurant birthday ideas, Pier Market has you covered. 


Our Menu

Make a Reservation