The Definitive Guide to Maine Clams at Weathervane Seafoods
Out of all the shellfish found in the Gulf of Maine, clams may be the most interesting of them all. Pretty much everything about Maine clams—from how they feed to how they are harvested—is fascinating.
At Weathervane Seafood Restaurants, we consider Maine clams to be one our most versatile menu items. Our guests routinely tell us how much they love our clam chowder, clam strips, whole clam dinners and clam strip rolls.
In order to truly appreciate Maine clams, we feel it’s a good idea to educate our guests about everything there is to know about the popular mollusks featured on our menu each and every day.
The following is everything you need to know about Maine clams:
Everything You Need to Know About Maine Clams
The Maine clams included on our menu are harvested year round, with the peak season coming in the summer. They can be found in the mud, sand and gravel intertidal areas, found along the coast. Maine clams come in two distinct varieties: Hard and soft shell.
Soft Shell Clams
The term soft shell doesn’t mean the clamshell is soft, rather it means it’s softer than its counterpart, the hard shell clam. Soft shell clams are typically thinner and much more brittle. They are harvested by independent clam diggers that work in the flats all year long using only a clam rake and a bucket.
Soft shell clams are considered the clam of choice for the seafood restaurant industry. They are traditionally served in two ways: Steamed or shucked. Steamers are the clams left in the shell and steamed. Shucked means the clam meat has been pulled from the shell and used for fried clam meals.
Hard Shell Clams
Hard shell clams in Maine come in many varieties—such as surf/hen clams, mahogany clams and cherrystone clams—all of which feature a hard, thick shell. Yet despite all being hard shell clams, they vary in size. The meat from these hard shelled clams is typically used for chowders.
Atlantic Surf Clams (aka Hen Clams)
These clams feature a very big and thick shell. They are considered very fast growing clams that can get as big as softballs and weigh over a pound. Atlantic surf clams are found burrowed into the sand beneath the surf breaker zone.
Mahogany clams, also known as Maine Ocean Quahogs, are much smaller hard shell clams. These clams get their names from their rich mahogany color. While very similar to Cherrystone clams, Mahogany clams offer a much saltier flavor profile. According to the Maine Sea Grant, these ocean quahogs are among the longest-lived marine organisms in the world, capable of living longer than 200 years.
Weathervane purchases clams up and down the Maine coastline—from as far north as the Lubec region to as far south as Scarborough and Falmouth. The majority of the clams we buy are used for frying or steaming.
Be sure to stop in and try some of our menu options featuring these delicious Maine clams the next time you’re near one of our many seafood restaurant locations in Maine and New Hampshire. Of course, depending on what you’re hungry for, our menu is also jam-packed with lobster, haddock, shrimp and scallops, as well as delicious steak and chicken dishes.