Clam HistoryThe clam is a bi-valve mollusk of the Pelecypoda class that digs in the sand. Although native to both salt and fresh water, saltwater clams are considered far superior for eating purposes. The word clam comes from the Old English clamm, meaning "bond" or "fetter," referring to its tightly clamped shell.
Native Americans carved clam shells into beads and used them as currency or wampum (Algonquian meaning "white string of beads"), and introduced colonists to the concept of clambakes.
The National Marine Fisheries located in Milford, Connecticut, pioneered clam farming circa 1930. Commercial hatcheries gained their foothold in the Northeast in the 1960s. Most commercially-available clams are nowadays raised on farms.
Since the shells are built of calcium deposits, it is no wonder that clams are a good source of calcium as well as being high in protein.
Clam VarietiesEnjoyed as a food source since prehistoric times, there are over 2,000 varieties of clams. There are two main types of clam: hard-shell (Mercenaria mercenaria, from the Latin merces meaning "pay") and soft-shell (Mya arenaria). Hard-shell clams generally live in deeper waters, whereas the soft-shell resides in tide flats.
Soft-shells are generally not eaten raw. The siphon neck protrudes from soft-shells, so they cannot completely close their shell.
Check out the clam varieties chart for more in-depth descriptions of the more popular clam varieties.
More About Clams and Clam Recipes• Clam Selection and Storage
• Clam Cooking Tips
• Clams and Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP)
• Clam Equivalents, Measures, and Substitutions
• Clam Varieties
• Clam History
• Clam Recipes
Clam Photo © 2008 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.
|•||The Compleat Clammer|
|•||The New England Clam Shack Cookbook|
|•||50 Chowders: One Pot Meals - Clam, Corn, & Beyond|
|•||Big Book of Fish & Shellfish|