Soft Shell Clam General Preparation:

Soft-shell clams have relatively thin and fragile shells. Broken or open clams should be discarded; after cooking, discard those clams that do not open.

To remove mud and grit from soft-shell clams, rinse thoroughly. Another option is to cover them with salted water and soak for 20 minutes to two hours to allow them to “purge” their stomachs of sediment. (Courtesy of Maine SeaGrant)

Steaming Clams:

The secret to steaming a Maine steamer is not to get fancy:

  • Simply dig or purchase Maine Clams. Give them a good rinse with cold water to remove all visible sediment.
  • Put clams in pot, add enough water to cover bottom of pot.
  • Add 1 can of beer (optional).
  • Bring water to a boil, cover and steam until shells open and meat is firm (approx. six to eight minutes). Don’t overcook as meat will turn mushy and soft.
  • Dip in melted butter and enjoy!

Traditional Maine Clambake:


  • Use four cinder blocks positioned vertically to make a square foundation. Place a sheet of metal on top of the cinder blocks. Build a fire underneath the metal sheet.
  • Pile a layer of seaweed on the metal sheet, covering it completely.
  • Nestle clams into the seaweed. You can also place lobsters, potatoes, corn and onions as desired. Use a strategically placed egg to test for doneness.
  • Cover the pile of clams (and other food) with seaweed.
  • Cover the seaweed with aluminum foil, while tucking it between the seaweed and the metal sheet to keep the heat in. Place seaweed on top of the foil so it doesn’t blow away.
  • Light the fire, keeping the flames steady and very hot. Cook for an hour and a half.