File this one under "you learn something new all the time". Last week, Pere and I were in the mood for mussels, so we broke out the Staub Mussel pot I bought her for her birthday and got to work. I had purchased some pretty decent mussels from our local gourmet grocery store, AJ's and was looking forward to enjoying the splurge (at almost $8 a pound).
Following the recipe I found, I submerged the mussels in cold water for around 30 minutes to allow them to filter, just like you would do with clams. After the 30 minutes were up, I went through the 2 pounds of mussels to discover about a quarter of them were dead. Their shells were agape, and tapping them did not cause them to close. I was pretty disappointed considering how much I had spent for them. The ones that weren't dead cooked up very well and were delicious.
Fast forward to today. It's Soprano's night, and we're having Moody and Catherine over for our weekly get together. We usually cook Italian, and I was anxious to make more mussels. This time, I purchased about 5 pounds at a much more reasonable price (about $2.45/lb) from my local Costco. This time, I decided to make up a recipe, but follow the same basic procedure as last time. Before filtering the mussels, though, I decided to inspect each and every one of them. In all, there were about 8 or so with broken shells, and 3 or 4 that looked to be dead (open shells). After removing the bad ones, I put the remaining ones in a big bowl of fresh water. After about 10 minutes, I decided to change the water. Upon doing so, I noticed another 4 or 5 mussels with open shells. Tapping them didn't make a difference. I figured I had just missed these the first time around. After another 10 minutes and another change of water, I noticed more dead mussels. Something was clearly wrong.
After about 5 minutes of Googling, I had my answer. It turns out, you are NOT supposed to submerge mussels in water as it can kill them. Almost every website I came across (except for the one where I found my original recipe) specifically mentioned not submerging them, and only rinsing them under running water while scrubbing away any external debris. Bugger!
I've got another few minutes before I toss the remaining live mussels in my pot. It looks again like I may have lost about a quarter of my original amount. Next time, though, I'll know exactly what I'm doing as far as handling live mussels goes.