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Some people consider eating raw food such as mussels a taboo, while some simply find it gross and dangerous. If you’re the adventurous type, you may still consider eating these sea creatures no matter what others tell you. So, can you eat raw mussels? The answer to this question may surprise you.
Yes, you can eat raw mussels, but it is not advised due to a higher risk of food-borne illness. Some restaurants have been serving “raw” mussels as a delicacy for many years. However, you have to take note that there are precautions to take before you eat them raw to ensure that you don’t suffer from food poisoning or other sicknesses. Read on to learn more about the fine details.
What do raw mussels taste like?
Because you’re interested in eating raw mussels, it’s also good to know why some people like eating them raw in the first place. Somehow, it gives them a sense of thrill like no other.
People who have already tried eating raw mussels reported them as having a subtle sea salt-like flavor with a combination of seaweed and mushroom-like undertones. When eaten fresh, they also have that faintly sweet and savory taste. Because of their light flavor, they can be combined with other hearty ingredients or simply seasoned with some herbs to accentuate the taste. They are chewy and firm in texture.
Are raw mussels good for you?
Yes. Among the many shellfish available in the ocean, mussels are considered top-notch when it comes to nutritional benefits. They contain high levels of fatty acids that are good for the body. Some of them are DHA and EPA. They are also good sources of folic acid, iron, and zinc. Here are some benefits that mussels can provide you. Just make sure not to eat too many of them, and you’re good to go.
- Improve heart health by regulating the heartbeat
- Prevent blood vessel blockages
- Regulate blood pressure
- Aid in brain development
- Boost the immune system
- Reduce the inflammation in joints and other parts of the body
Can you get sick from eating raw mussels?
Yes. Vibriosis is a condition obtained from a bacterium found in shellfish such as mussels. You may also know this condition as seafood poisoning.
There are various symptoms of food poisoning that you can experience 12 hours to two days after eating poorly prepared mussels. You may experience one or all symptoms depending on the quality of the mussels and the amount that you consumed. These include some of the following:
- Watery diarrhea
- Stomach cramps
How can you tell if mussels are safe to eat?
First off, you need to make sure that they’re alive before you prepare them. They should have a light and salty smell and not have a strong or fishy odor.
Next, check the shells for signs of breakage or foul odor. Throw out any shell with either of these two qualities. Tap the open mussels and see if they close. If they never open or close by themselves, throw them away. It doesn’t matter if they move slowly as long as they do. Keep the remaining mussels because they are still good for consumption.
Can you eat raw mussels? Yes, but not entirely raw in the absolute sense of the word. If you truly want to eat them, you have to prepare them by cooking, steaming, baking, or marinating them in acid.
The closest preparation technique, if you want to eat mussels “raw,” is through an acid marinade. Soak them in vinegar with onions, pepper, salt, water, and other herbs and spices that you fancy. Let them sit in the fridge for about three hours before eating.
How do you tell if mussels are bad before cooking?
Mussels are considered bad if they are tough. Mussels that are opened during the preparation period are acceptable. However, if they remain closed without any signs of movement during the entire process, discard them as they have long been dead already. They must be alive before cooking to prevent their toxins from building up and accelerating the spoilage rate.
Mussels get their food from the sea by a filter-feeding system. Therefore, their food may come with dirt when they let it enter their shells. This is why they become increasingly toxic the longer you put them off for preparation and cooking.
Does freezing mussels kill them?
Yes. However, you should make sure they are alive when you freeze them. Perform the steps above to ensure that no bad mussel will be mixed in with the batch. After that, clean each of them so there will be lower chances of contamination before you eat them. Rinse them under cold water once you’re done brushing them.
Place them in a container and cover them with a damp towel or cloth. This will keep the moisture out while maintaining the optimal temperature. Never place the mussels inside airtight or plastic containers because this will kill them off more quickly than intended. If they get killed faster, they will also spoil faster.
When should you not eat mussels and why?
While it’s tempting to do so, avoid eating shellfish during the summer season. Red Tide is rampant during this time of the year, and you are more likely to suffer from seafood poisoning or even worse. Also, the relatively high temperatures can easily contribute to faster food spoilage.
Avoid eating mussels as well if you’re pregnant or immunocompromised. Mussels are considered one of the species at the bottom of the food chain. Despite their nutritional value, you run the risk of developing infections because of what the mussels eat during their lifetime. To be safe, avoid them even if they are well-cooked.
Conclusion: Can You Eat Raw Mussels?
Again, here’s the question: Can you eat raw mussels? After having read the details above, the answer is still yes, you can eat raw mussels, but you need to properly prepare them with an acid marinade. There are some exceptions and circumstances that indicate it’s not safe to eat raw mussels. If they are in season, it’s generally safe to eat them.
However, look out for signs of bad mussels for your safety. Mussels spoil relatively fast. The spoilage rate goes even higher if the mussels are not properly picked and prepared. Get them alive and prepare them alive as much as possible. This is to help ensure that you don’t get sick in the process.