Summertime is the best time to eat oysters, mussels, and clams, correct? Not according to the advice that I first heard from my Uncle, who told me that you should only eat fresh shellfish during the months of the year that contain the letter R. (September - April). I broke the seal two weeks ago, and I have to say, the quality this year is outstanding.

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Where did that R month/safe shellfish come from? Is there any truth to it? According to, not really. Aquaculture, increased food safety, monitoring, and accountability for farmers have made oysters, clams, and mussels completely safe to eat year round, well, besides those pesky pollution run offs and algae blooms. Which leads me to a counterpoint: oysters spawn in warm water, and they're thinner. You've seen the difference between a hard shell lobster and one that has recently molted? The meat is withered in soft shell lobsters.

I bought a dozen littlenecks recently from Community Shellfish in Bethel, they're an incredible operation that runs an oyster aquaculture farm in Bremen, Maine, employ local clam diggers and lobster boats, and deliver it fresh to their storefront in Bethel, Connecticut. The dozen that I picked up were pristine, all of them had the same pattern on their shells, which was so unique. Typically I get clams of every shade of gray to brown. Look at how they match up.

Photo By Large Dave
Photo By Large Dave

And after steaming

Photo by Large Dave
Photo by Large Dave

I'm drooling now, because this is also the time of year where whole belly clams seems to be at their peak, and there are no tourists packing the shacks.

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