Soft shell, or “steamer” clams are a favorite New England treat. Unfortunately, they’re hard to find, and have to be collected in season. That means that steamer clams are off the menu for the rest of the year, unless you can preserve them. Bottling steamer clams is an excellent way to keep some of your clam harvest for later in the year. Like any other type of canning, it should be done with care, but isn’t hard to accomplish.
Things You'll Need
- Live steamer clams
- Large pot
- Salt water (1 teaspoon of salt per quart)
- Lemon juice or citric acid
- Sterilized jars or bottles with caps
- Pressure canner
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Wash clams thoroughly. Discard any clams that don’t close when you tap the shell.
Fill pot with 1/4 inch water and bring to a boil. Add clams, cover, and cook for five to 10 minutes, or until clams open. Remove steamer clams and reserve broth. If there is sand or sediment in the broth, filter it using a strainer or cheesecloth.
Open clams and remove the meat. Discard siphon membrane and wash clams in water to remove excess sand. Wash again in salted water, then boil for two minutes in water containing two tablespoons lemon juice for each gallon. Drain.
Fill jars and bottles loosely with whole or minced clams. Heat clam juice and fill jars, adding boiling water if required to fill. Jars should have one inch of headspace to allow for expansion.
Adjust lids and process in pressure canner. Process half-pints for 60 minutes and pints for 70 minutes. For dial-gauge pressure canners, use 11 psi at altitudes below 2,000 feet, and higher pressures at higher altitudes, according to your canning guide. Weighted gauge pressure canners will require 10 psi below 1,000 feet and 15 psi above 1,000 feet.