Scientific Name: Mytilus galloprovincialis
Habitat: These mussels are farmed in Tomales Bay Ca., in fact, they are the only mussels currently being harvested in Tomlales Bay.
Diet: Mussels are filter feeders; they feed on plankton and other microscopic sea creatures which are free-floating in seawater. A mussel draws water in through its incurrent siphon. The water is then brought into the branchial chamber by the actions of the cilia located on the gills for ciliary-mucus feeding. The wastewater exits through the excurrent siphon. The labial palps finally funnel the food into the mouth, where digestion begins.
Size: These mussels rarely exceed 4 inches
Range: This species is native to the Mediterranean.
AKA: mediterannean blue mussels
Yummy! As far as flavor goes, these are one of my favorite mussels on the planet. And knowing that I am helping to support the only mussel producer left in our area makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside!
Mussels arrive whole, in their shells and alive. Please always check for dead ones. If any are open, and do not close when tapped they are dead and should be thrown out. Cove mussels, because they are not machine processed, sprayed and scrubbed are about the closest thing to a wild mussel you are going to find beyond going down to Mussel Rock and picking them yourself. Be advised that you will have to grab the beard (the bristle-like fibers on the side of the shell) and pull them off before you plop them in the pot.
I should point out that as far as aquaculture goes, farming bivalves is about as sustainable and ecosystem friendly as you can get. Bivalves are filter feeders and one can actually make the case that they leave the environment cleaner than it was before they strained out all the diatoms, which is what was so odd about the recent closure of Drake's Oyster Co.
Gear and fishery info:
All the aquaculture facilities in California are required by law to test their oysters and mussels for red tide toxins. So occasionally, if you really want mussels and they are unavailable there was probably an algae bloom in Tomales Bay, and the farm is closed. If you are then forced to go out and pick your own mussels call this number first: 800-553-4133
As of this writing there is only one locally grown mussel in the (greater) Bay Area: the Cove Mussel from Tomales bay. I am extremely happy that I have access to these through my partner at the Wharf, Kenny Belov. Contrary to popular belief, one can only very rarely find these particular local mussels in markets. I called the seafood buyer at the premier foodie supermarket in SF's Mission district, and he said: “I can only get those by special order.” When you get them from me on Wednesdays and Fridays they are normally less than a day out of Tomales Bay.
Fish Nerdism 101:
2010 - present
2010 - present
If you are looking for local, wild mussels (M. californiensis) it is illegal to commercially harvest wild grown bivalves in the state of California. This is a Health Department restriction, meant to protect the public from consuming unscreened mussels harvested in polluted waters or during red tides.