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Gaper clam
Gaper Clam
Cleaning Gaper Clams

Gaper Clams

Daily Limit: 12, out of a total of 20 bay clams (regulations)
Use: Clam steaks, chowder
Digging Method: shovel
Habitat: high salinity sandy and/or muddy areas
Where to Dig: Tillamook | Netarts | Yaquina | Siuslaw | Umpqua | Coos

More about Gaper Clams

Steps to processing Gaper clams

gaper clam

Step 1 - Start with a whole live clam

Start cleaning on live clams. Some may put in freshwater overnight, but we recommend this method.

Gaper clams have a long siphon (or neck) that can partly retract into their shell.

cutting adductor muscle

Step 2 - Insert knife and cut adductor muscles

The first step in cleaning a gaper clam is to slip a thin knife along the edge of the shell to cut the two adductor muscles that hold the two shells together.

cutting adductor muscles of gaper clam

Step 3 - Cut adductor muscles

Cut each of the two adductor muscles where they are attached to the shell, and gently pull away the whole clam body.

shucked clam

gaper anatomy

Step 4 - Fully shucked clam

The fully shucked clam body can now be pulled from the shell.







A close look at gaper anatomy, including a female pea crab, almost always found in the mantle of gaper clams and typically accompanied by a male (smaller)

gaper neck and mantle separation

Step 5 - Cut off the neck and mantle

Cut off the neck and mantle and separate from the clam body.

cutting off gaper digger foot

Step 6 - Cut off foot, discard guts

The remaining clam body is made up of the gut, the gills, and the digger foot. Only the triangular, muscular digger foot is usually retained, and the gut and gills are discarded.

Another thing you can do is thumb them out if cooking whole.

gaper neck in bag

gaper neck freezing

Step 7 - Prepare neck for skin removal

The tough brown skin on the neck and mantle tissue requires special attention as it is difficult to remove from freshly cleaned clams. There are several techniques but the two that we recommend are the cold water soak and the freezing method. The cold water soak method is simply allowing the neck and mantle tissues to soak in cold freshwater (in a bag or bowl) for 4+ hours for the muscle tissue to relax. The freezing method is placing the necks into a freezer bag, and freezing and defrosting them later.


siphon tip cut

Step 8 - Remove neck skin and cut siphon tip off

After using either the cold water soak or freezing method, the tough brown skin can easily be peeled.

The tough siphon tips should also be cut and removed. Along with the digger foot, the clam meat is now ready for your favorite recipe.

finished product

Step 9 - Finished product

After discarding guts and gills, the finished product should be the filleted neck, adductor muscles and foot.



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