Everything you need to know about the life of Mussels and their health benefits
The Life of a Mussel
Mussels start their life a minuscule free swimming organism created when female mussels spawn. Spawning, which typically occurs when water temperature drops rapidly in winter, sees the release of millions of spat that swim freely for up to 10 weeks. Spat then settle on ropes specifically placed in the water to provide a surface for young mussels to grow on. While initially invisible to the naked eye, after about 6 months, spat will grown to around 15 to 25mm in length with an estimated 10,000 mussels growing on each spat rope.
To avoid mussels becoming overcrowded and mussels falling off, there is a need to “re-seed” wild caught spat. This is done using a process known as socking. Spat ropes are stripped and mussels re-seeded onto grow out ropes using a biodegradable sock that hold the mussels onto the rope until they re-attach naturally. Mussels are then left to grow out to maturity some 6-8 months later. Just one spat rope can produce up to eight grow out ropes, each capable of producing upto 60 kilos of mature mussels.
Mussels are an amazingly resilient shell fish. Kept cool and moist they can last for over a week out of water. The secret in storing mussels is to make sure they are kept moist but do not sit in pooled water – in other words water must be able to drain away from the mussels.
Contrary to the often held belief that mussels that are open when you buy them should be discarded, the key is to ensure that the mussels are alive. If a mussel is open, tap its shell or run it under water for 30 seconds – a live mussel will then close and is perfectly good to cook and eat.
Mussels that don’t open during cooking should also NOT be discarded, they just may need a little longer to open. This is particularly true of very fresh mussels.
The key to buying mussels is freshness. Come visit us on the Safety Beach foreshore where not only can you buy freshly harvested mussels you can see the farm from where they came.
Mussels – Making you healthy
Not only do our mussels taste great, they are also extremely good for you.
Mussels are a high protein food source. Their low fat content makes them potentially healthier than other protein sources, such as beef, which can contain a lot of saturated fat. Mussels are also low in calories, with raw mussels containing only 70 calories per 3 oz. (85g), including 1.9g of fat (0.4g of which is saturated fat). A comparable amount of lean sirloin beef contains 160 calories and 2.1g of saturated fat. The beef does contain twice the protein of the mussels.
Mussels are also an excellent source of vitamin B12 and selenium, which is an essential micro-nutrient. Vitamin B12 is important in the functioning of metabolism processes and a deficiency can cause fatigue and depression, as well as other symptoms. One hundred grams of mussels provides around 13% of your daily vitamin C needs and 22% of your daily iron needs. Mussels are also good sources of other B vitamins (particularly folate), phosphorus, manganese and zinc. Mussels are a very good source of omega-3 fatty acids and are considered an excellent seafood choice.