Mussels at Trebarwith Strand
Mussels at Trebarwith Strand
Lundy Bay at low tide
Lundy Bay at low tide
Season: October - March


Although mussels are one of the most sustainable forms of seafood, you should avoid harvesting them between May and August as this is their breeding season. Make sure you collect more mature mussels of at least 50mm in length as smaller ones are less good to eat. It's worth studying the tides to get the beach for a low Spring tide as this is when you'll find the biggest juiciest mussels. Avoid picking any mussels with a damaged shell - you want to be sure they are alive and fresh. Ideally take a bucket and bring your mussels home in clean seawater. Otherwise use a carrier bag and try to keep them cool.

Good places in North Cornwall to harvest mussels

To get the best mussels, if you put on a snorkel and mask you can pick HUGE mussels from the offshore rocks. Particularly in September and October the water is at its warmest.

Foraging walks


Preparing mussels

Once you have harvested your mussels, soak them for a few hours somewhere cool in clean saltwater to allow them to purge any sand (don't submerge them in freshwater as this will kill them). Sort through them, tapping any that are open on a surface to see if they close shut. Discard any that remain open, or any that are damaged (they have perished and are not safe to eat). Mussels must be thoroughly cleaned and rinsed before cooking. The "beard" (threads that secure the mussel to the rock) must be removed. This can be done by giving the beard a forceful tug with your fingers and pulling it away or by cutting it off with a small and sharp knife. Scrape any barnacles off using the back of a knife. Rinse several times to remove all traces of sand. Cook according to the recipe; discard any that are still shut after cooking.


Companion ingredients