28 Oct Mussels: 9 of the weird and wonderful things you need to know.
Mussels (not to be confused with muscles) are those delightful little clam-like asymmetrical wedge-shaped molluscs that dwell in the sea. Also known as Brain Food or Superfood of the Sea, we could sit here and list the health benefits like high protein, low fat or even their omega-rich goodness but really, all you need to know is they are this month’s must-have meal.
Perfectly prepared in a white wine and cream sauce, you can enjoy 1kg of Australian Mussels for lunch or dinner every day throughout November. And because we know a mussel-must is crusty garlic bread, we thought we would throw this on the side for your eating pleasure. Hint: it’s perfect for you to mop up the mussels sauce with.
Fact 1 – Prehistoric food source.
- Mussels have been used as a food source for more than 20,000 years. Prehistoric settlements found in Scotland can often be identified by the large mounds of mussel shells found nearby.
Fact 2 – A different kind of beard.
- Mussels are sedentary, meaning they spend their lives attached to substrate, such as rocks. They do this through byssal threads or “beards”. These chitinous threads are produced as a liquid which then sets in the seawater. Mussel’s beards are so strong that they can cling to Teflon surfaces, leading scientists to develop adhesives based on their properties.
Fact 3 – Survival Mode.
- To survive in the exposed and often harsh tidal areas, mussels can seal themselves by tightly closing their valves and trapping water within.
Fact 4 – Keeping it in the family.
- Mussels frequently occur in large colonies, forming mussel beds.
Fact 5 – Because when it’s fresh.
- Fresh-water species of mussels occur in streams and rivers and the larvae of fresh-water mussels are parasitic, most often on fish. Numerous species of fresh-water mussels are endangered, including roughly half the species that occur in North America.
Fact 6 – Spot the difference.
- The mantles of a lady mussel is orange, while a gents is a creamy white.
Fact 7 – ‘Tis the season.
- The size of the mussel varies with the season. They are largest and fleshiest in October/November, then becoming increasingly smaller, as the month’s progress.
Fact 8 – Eat it.
- Mussels feed entirely on plankton and plankton only. To do this they can filter up to 65 litres of water a day.
Fact 9 – The health.
- Yep. We are still going there… Tasty and nutritious, gram for gram mussel meat contains more protein than beef stock, much less fat, many more mineral nutrients and a quarter of the calories.
So now that you are officially a mussel connoisseur, why not flex your muscles (pun intended) with these facts next time you are in The Bistro. We guarantee your fellow diners will be impressed!