Forage and Cook Cornish Mussels

Surround on three sides by the sea. The United Kingdom’s southern most county is a great place to forage and cook Cornish mussels.

Foraging Mussels

The abundance of rocks on Cornwall’s many tidal and clean beaches create a natural environment for mussels to grow in abundance. Mussels are also one of the most sustainable seafoods to source in the waters around the British Isles.  

When collecting mussels on Cornish beaches there are a few basic rules to follow:

  • Make a note of the tide times before you set off.
  • Check the water quality of the beach you are collecting the mussels on.
  • Only pick mussels that are over 5cm in length.
  • Only collect mussels when the month of the year has an ‘R’ in it.
  • Avoid foraging for mussels near harbours and areas of marine traffic.

Preparing Mussels

  • Throw away any cracked or open mussels.
  • Store them in a refrigerator until ready to use.
  • Cook within 1-2 days of picking.
  • Soak the mussels in cold salted water for around 15 minutes
  • Remove the beard and any sand, then rinse with cold water.
  • Dry each mussel off with kitchen towel.

Moules Marinières

There are many ingredients to cook with Mussels that all taste amazing! Our personal favourite is the classic Moules Marinières. Roughly translated as French Mussels in a white wine & garlic sauce. For this recipe maybe we can change the name to Moules Kernow! Preparation time is around 20 minutes and the cook time around 15 minutes.

ingredients
  • 25-30 Mussels (serves 2 people)
  • Generous glass of dry white wine.
  • Knob of full fat butter.
  • 2 chopped shallots.
  • 3 crushed garlic cloves.
  • Sprig of chopped parsley.
Method
  • Put the Mussels into a pan, pour in the wine and cover.
  • Bring to the boil then turn down to simmer for 5-6 minutes.
  • Remove the mussels and set to one side.
  • Discard any non opened mussels.
  • Pour the remaining cooking liquid into a jug and let it settle.
  • In a separate pan, melt the butter on a medium heat.
  • Add the shallots and garlic.
  • Filter the cooking liquid through a clean kitchen cloth into the pan.
  • Stir for 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Pour the sauce over the mussels in a serving bowl.
  • Finish with chopped parsley sprinkled over the top.

A freshly baked hunk of crusty bread is the ideal accompaniment!

Forage and Cook Cornish Mussels

..and finally, some words of advice.

Mussels can occasionally contain some fairly nasty toxins and chemicals. Most can be easily removed by cooking. Others are much less common. But their impact can be much more severe and are almost impossible to remove in the cooking process.

If you are informed and careful about where you forage mussels from. Also how you prepare and cook them, then you will be fine.

Hidden Cornwall