Other Names: Green Lip Mussels (Perna canaliculus)… Mediterranean Mussels (mytilus galloprovencialis)… Blue Mussels (mytilus edulis)… *There are dozens of species.
Range & Habitat: Mussels can be found along the Atlantic, Pacific and Mediterranean coasts. Commercially, they are most often sourced through aquaculture.
Identification & Biology: Depending on the species, shells can be anywhere from 1 1/2 to 6 inches in length. Shell colors range from an indigo blue (the most common) to bright green to a yellowish-brown. All mussels' shells are thin and oblong in shape.
Market Description: Mussels are best bought in their shells so they should appear much as they do in water. The meat of the mussel is cream, tan, or pale orange.
Sold as: Mussels are sold live in their shells, frozen or cooked and packed in oil, either plain or smoked
Buying tips: Buy them live and fresh. Buy mussels with tightly closed shells or those that snap shut when tapped; this is how you know that they're still alive. Those with broken and heavy shells should be avoided as should those that feel too light seem loose when shaken. Finally, as with many fish, smaller mussels tend to be more tender than their larger siblings.
Notes: Mussel seasons are different from coast to coast. On the East Coast, fresh mussels are available year round. On the West Coast, fresh mussels are only available from November through April.
Recommended Preparation: Mussels are excellent steamed, baked, and fried. As with almost all shellfish, overcooking tends to make mussels chewy and tough. They are also popular as additions to pasta dishes, seafood soups like bouillabaisse and Spanish dishes like paella.
Green Lip Mussels (Perna canaliculus)… New Zealand Greenlipped Mussels are plump, juicy, and have a sweet, delicate flavor and a tender texture. Flesh color ranges from cream (males) to light orange (females).
Mediterranean Mussels (mytilus galloprovencialis)… Mediterranean Mussels are larger and meatier than Blue Mussels. They have full meats which fill the shell. The flavor is delicate yet complex, with a buttery texture.
Blue Mussels (mytilus edulis)… (e.g. PEI… Prince Edward Island)… Blue Mussels have plump, tender, sweet meats. Compared to Mediterranean Mussels, Blue Mussels have a milder flavor and do not fill the shell as fully.