Countneck clams have a mild-flavored, sweet and briny. Cooked hardshells are soft, juicy and mild. Raw meat should be tender-crisp and plump, ranging in color from ivory to golden yellow, with some dark areas. Cooked meat is pale, pinkish-white. Hardshells have an off-white, oval, symmetrical shell with a purple or violet border inside. Discard clams with open or broken shells. Unlike softshells, hardshell clams can close their shells completely and “live on their own juices” for a time, giving them a longer shelf life out of water than softshells. Countnecks are great fried or steamed. In soup, add minced clams at the simmer stage, steep 5 minutes and serve. Cherrystones are sometimes eaten raw but more often are broiled, chopped for chowder or baked in dishes like clams casino.
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