As a form of shellfish, mussels are excellent and are frequently prepared in a sauce or with seasoning, however some people like to eat them raw. However, eating raw, uncooked mussels raises certain questions. So, are mussels safe to consume raw? You can consume raw mussels, but there is a chance that they may contain germs that could cause a serious food-borne illness and make you very ill. There are several measures you should take if you plan to eat raw mussels. It is said that cooking mussels first is better. To learn more about eating raw mussels, the dangers associated with it, and the best way to enjoy mussels, keep reading!
Is It Safe To Eat Raw Mussels?
The question of whether uncooked mussels are safe to consume is hotly debated. In some situations, eating raw mussels may be safe, but there is a considerable danger that the mussels will contain hazardous germs that will make you very sick. Mussels cannot get you sick; it is the germs that mussels may acquire in the ocean that provide the most danger. These bacteria and pathogens can be destroyed during the cooking process, but eating the mussels raw means inhaling whatever microorganisms are on the mussel.
If the mussels you eat raw do not contain these hazardous pathogens and germs, they are safe to consume. However, it might be difficult to identify whether the mussels are infected or not, which is the true issue. The safest solution is to avoid eating raw mussels; to limit the risk of eating mussels contaminated with hazardous bacteria, boil the mussels to kill any germs present.
Why You Shouldn’t Eat Raw Mussels
Raw mussels pose a health risk since they may harbor harmful germs and parasites that can cause food poisoning. The most common bacteria in mussels include Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Escherichia coli, and salmonella, all of which have the potential to cause sickness. All of these things can make you sick, and the mussels could have any of them. These symptoms can be brought on by eating raw mussels that are infected with these bacteria.
Pain in the stomach
All of these are signs of food poisoning, which you may or may not be able to treat at home. Those who are already weaker may get gravely ill.
What Do Raw Mussels Taste Like?
Raw mussels have a particular flavor that is comparable to how mussels taste when cooked. Fresh, raw mussels have a sea-salt flavor with seaweed and fish undertones. They are both sweet and salty at the same time, and the flavor is not overpowering. When eating fresh mussels raw, they can be eaten “as is” or spiced with lemon juice or spicy sauce to give a kick of taste and enhance the mussel’s natural flavor.
Who Should Avoid Eating Raw Mussels?
Some people are more susceptible to becoming sick from raw mussels than others because of the high danger of bacteria and pathogens in them. Avoid eating raw mussels if you’re pregnant, have a compromised immune system, are elderly, or have young children. They are more likely to get sick, and the foodborne disease may have a more serious impact on their health. However, eating raw mussels puts you at danger for serious illness even if you’re a healthy adult, so you shouldn’t take it lightly.
Can You Purchase Raw Mussels In Restaurants?
Eating raw mussels is not usually safe, however some establishments serve them as a delicacy. Before you go thinking that raw mussels are safe to eat, keep in mind that most restaurants cook their mussels in an acid mixture beforehand, which can assist to kill off some bacteria. This acid mixture is typically created using vinegar, salt, spices, and, on occasion, onions. This not only keeps the mussels in good condition, but it also adds to the overall flavor.
Can You Eat Undercooked Mussels?
Eating mussels raw is one thing, but if you heat them just a little, you might be wondering if they’re still safe to eat. Eating uncooked mussels still carries a risk of contracting a foodborne illness since the mussels must be cooked to a specific temperature in order for the bacteria to be destroyed and become safe for consumption. The minimum safe cooking temperature for mussels is 149°F since this is the temperature at which germs and pathogens are destroyed.
Due to their small size, mussels don’t actually need to be cooked for very long; in fact, they only need about 5-7 minutes to cook, making it difficult to accidentally undercook them. In general, you should steer clear of undercooked mussels since they can still be contaminated with dangerous bacteria.
How To Know Which Mussels Are Safe To Eat
Whether you eat mussels raw or fresh, you must select the proper mussels to enjoy. You could buy frozen mussels that have already been cleaned and selected for you, but fresh is always better. Here are some pointers on how to select the best mussels.
Look For Closed Shells
The mussel shells should be examined to determine if they are closed or not as your initial step. When purchased, the mussels should preferably still be alive; a closed shell indicates that the mussels are still alive. If you are shopping, you might not have the entire amount of time to wait, so you should only choose shells that are closed. The shell might be partially open, but it should close again. An increase in bacterial growth may be indicated by open shells, which are a sign that the mussels have died or are no longer good.
Look For Whole Shells
The shell should not be fractured or chipped even if it is closed. Cracks or chips in the shell may indicate that the mussel is dead or that it was harvested and transported improperly, rendering it dangerous to consume. Cracks in the shell may also allow bacteria to enter the mussel, making them a risk of food-borne illness if consumed.
Look For Clean Shells
The cleanliness of the shells should also be checked. The mussels must be cleaned after harvesting, even if just briefly. It is preferable to avoid anything with a dirty shell because it indicates that the animal hasn’t been adequately cared for or prepared.
Smell For Any Off Odor
Mussels will have an oceanic, salty odor, which is acceptable because it indicates that they are fresh. However, if the odor is too strong or slightly rancid, you should avoid them. Mussels will have an unmistakable off-odor as they die and begin to spoil, and it should be easy to detect. Don’t feel bad about sniffing all the mussels you want to buy!
Can You Eat Frozen Mussels?
Frozen mussels are a common way to sell them, but while the freezing procedure can help to kill certain germs, it might not completely eradicate everything. If feasible, mussels should be frozen while they are still alive to preserve their freshness and keep them as fresh as possible. Some manufacturers, however, partially boil mussels before freezing them, but this partial heating does not necessarily eliminate all potential pathogens.
The risk of contracting a foodborne illness still exists while eating frozen mussels. This is due to the fact that freezing generally does not kill germs; rather, it hibernates them, allowing them to reproduce once they are thawed. As a result, there is still a chance that consuming frozen raw mussels or even partially cooked mussels will make you sick.
Before consuming frozen raw mussels (or partially cooked frozen mussels), it is best to fully cook them. They should be quickly cooked at high heat to destroy any bacteria while maintaining the mussels’ tenderness and flavor.
How To Clean Mussels
The mussels should have been cleaned by the fishermen or grocery store where you purchased them, but you may need to clean them yourself before cooking. You should only clean the mussels right before cooking them since cleaning them will kill them, and you want to prepare them as fresh as possible. One mussel at a time should be cleaned. Begin by cleaning and rubbing the shell under running water to remove any dirt and debris.
Some mussels may have a “beard,” which appears like a tiny, hairy rope. Pull it towards the end of the mussel to remove it. If it doesn’t come off easily, you can cut it with a small pair of scissors. Repeat with the remaining mussels, checking to ensure that the shells are still completely closed. Also, during washing, keep the mussels away from a bowl of water. When all of the mussels are done, give them one last rinse and set them aside.
How To Cook Mussels
Mussels only need to cook for a short time, therefore cooking them can be very simple. The best approach to prepare mussels is to immediately steam them at a high temperature. Find a large enough pot with a tight-fitting lid to start cooking in. Only one-third of the pot should be occupied by the mussels. The next step is to choose the broth or sauce—wine-based or made with coconut milk—that you want to boil the mussels in and add it to the saucepan.
The amount of liquid in the saucepan needs to be around an inch, just enough to steam the mussels without boiling them. Bring the pot to a boil over a medium-high heat. When the water is boiling, add the mussels and secure the lid. Set a timer for three minutes; after the allotted time has passed, stir the mussels and replace the lid. Three more minutes of cooking time will be plenty to finish them. Make sure that all of the shells have cracked open during cooking, and discard any that have not.
How To Store Fresh Mussels
If you plan on eating mussels raw, or even frying them, you must know how to preserve them properly to keep them in the best condition before eating. Proper storage will also assist to decrease the possibility of bacterial growth! It is always best to consume mussels on the same day that they are purchased, since they will be at their nicest and freshest. If you can’t eat them all on the same day, store them in the fridge for up to two days.
If you store the mussels for up to two days, you may need to discard some when it comes time to cook because a few may have perished while being stored, thus it may be worth purchasing extra. Place the mussels in a colander or sieve set over a basin to keep them. This permits any liquid to fall to the bottom bowl without suffocating the mussels.
Because the mussels are still living and need to breathe, do not cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in the refrigerator and use the mussels within two days. Wait until you’re preparing to cook the mussels to clean them again, then inspect for any dead mussels before cooking.
Although it is technically possible, it is not advised to eat uncooked mussels. There is a chance that eating raw mussels will expose you to dangerous microorganisms. It’s not always possible to determine whether or not mussels contain these dangerous bacteria and diseases, even if they are really fresh. The risk is so great because of this.
The best method to enjoy mussels is to choose clean, fresh, unopened mussels, then cook them for about 7 minutes over high heat. This is sufficient time to properly cook the mussels, guaranteeing the destruction of all bacteria while maintaining soft and delectable mussels. There is no reason to risk eating mussels raw when there are so many wonderful methods to prepare them and exquisite flavors to match them with.
Now that we’ve learned everything there is to know about mussels and why you shouldn’t eat them uncooked, here are some extra questions we thought you might have.
Can you eat mussels right out of the ocean?
While it is possible to consume mussels straight from the ocean, it is not recommended. No matter how fresh they may seem, mussels that have not been thoroughly cleaned may contain bacteria that could make you ill.
Should mussels float or sink?
Check that the shell of your mussels is closed. Squeeze the shell shut if it is slightly open; if it stays shut, the mussel is still alive and safe to eat. After that, put the mussels in a dish of water. If they sink, they are alive; if they float, they are dead and should be discarded.