Mussels are some of the cheapest types of seafood you can buy. However, this might make you wonder if mussels are as healthy as other types of seafood. Are there any health benefits of mussels? And why exactly are mussels so cheap?
Mussels are cheap seafood because they reproduce exponentially, and farmers don’t have a lot of inset costs. Mussels are filter feeders, so farmers don’t have to buy and feed expensive food. In addition, mussels are available year-round, increasing their supply and decreasing their cost.
Mussels are cheap, but that doesn’t mean you should skip them when looking for premium quality seafood. We will discuss why mussels are so cheap and their health benefits. Cooking mussels is easy, and you can easily incorporate more seafood into your diet with mussels at an affordable price.
Why Are Mussels Such A Cheap Seafood?
When people think of eating more seafood, they often only think of expensive fish such as salmon or shrimp. However, there are many kinds of more affordable seafood, and mussels are one of them. You can buy one pound of mussels for as little as $5. But, of course, the price of mussels depends on their quality, size, and mussel variety.
Regardless, mussels are incredibly cheap when compared to other types of seafood. This is because mussels are often farmed on mussel farms, and most of the mussels you can find in grocery stores or fish markets are farmed. So, why are farmed mussels so much cheaper than other farmed seafood such as shrimp or salmon?
The biggest reason farmed mussels are so cheap is that they have such a low inset cost. Mussels don’t require fancy breeding tanks, specialized food, or round-the-clock care. With mussels, all a farmer needs are some wooden and a cage in the water. Then, you plant the mussel spores on the ropes and watch them grow.
Mussels are ready to harvest within 1.5 years after birth and are sexually mature within one year. A single mussel can lay more than 100 eggs each time, meaning that mussels multiply at an extremely fast rate. Mussels can also spawn multiple times during a season, meaning that there may be 100s of eggs produced by a single female each year.
When the mussels are ready for harvest, farmers either harvest them by hand or with a hydraulic machine that pulls all the mussels off of a pole at once. Therefore, the harvesting method for mussels also doesn’t require much labor and costs less.
Mussels also don’t require any food. Mussels are filter creatures, meaning they filter seawater through their gills and eat the phytoplankton and other microscopic food sources from the filtered water. As such, a farmer spends no money on additional food sources for the mussels to eat.
These factors all work together to ensure that mussels are an affordable type of seafood. Mussel farmers have hardly any inset cost. Because of the mussels’ high productivity rate, farmers can expect a bigger yield each year.
Are Mussels Healthy?
Considering mussels are so cheap, some people may wonder if they are healthy? Well, yes, mussels are a highly healthy type of seafood. They are high in protein, selenium, zinc, folates, and Omega 3 fatty acids. One portion of mussels consists of one pound of fresh mussels or 3 ounces of cooked mussel meat. Within this portion, you will get the following nutrients.
In addition, mussels contain many other micronutrients and minerals. Therefore, mussels are a cheap and highly nutritious type of seafood. They are also very versatile. For example, you can use mussels in pasta dishes to make seafood chowder or serve them in a garlic butter sauce with freshly baked bread.
In addition, you can preserve mussels by freezing them or pickling them in vinegar. By doing so, you can have mussels on hand at any time and easily eat seafood once a week with these affordable shellfish.
How many mussels can you eat every week? Research suggests that you can safely consume up to four portions of mussels every week without damaging your health. This means you can eat 12 ounces of mussel meat or four pounds of mussels in their shells weekly. Just make sure the mussels are fresh before cooking them!
How To Buy And Cook The Best Mussels
While you can buy frozen half-shell or shelled mussels at any grocery store, we recommend starting with fresh mussels that you can buy at a fish market or fish monger. Fresh mussels have a better texture than frozen ones. In addition, frozen mussels quickly get freezer burn. Therefore, using fresh mussels is best if you want the best-tasting seafood dish.
Fresh mussels may cost a tad bit more than frozen ones. However, you can buy a pound of fresh mussels for as little as $7 at some fish markets, making them an affordable seafood option. So how do you choose the best fresh mussels to buy?
There are a few key factors to consider when buying fresh mussels. The first thing you must consider is the smell. Fresh mussels should smell slightly salty, like the ocean. However, if the mussels smell fishy or rotten, they aren’t safe to eat.
The next thing to consider is the mussel shells. The shells should be shiny, bright, and wet. If the shells are dry and wilted, the mussels have been laying out too long and aren’t safe to consume. Also, don’t purchase any mussels in broken, chipped, or cracked shells.
Next, ensure that the mussels are still responsive. Some mussel shells will open if they are removed from the ocean. However, if tapped, the shells should close tightly. If the shells don’t close tightly or don’t close at all, the mussels are dead or dying, and you shouldn’t buy them.
Once you have selected the freshest mussels, keep them on ice or in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them. Then, soak the mussels in salt water to remove the sand and grit from their bellies. Farmed mussels are much cleaner than wild ones, but you should still rinse them.
Remove the beards and steam them in water, broth, or white wine. Once cooked, you can use your mussels in various dishes and recipes. Various versatile ways to use this affordable seafood in your weekly cooking exist.
Mussels are a cheap source of seafood because they have a meager inset cost. They don’t require fancy cages or high-quality food, and you can harvest mussels within two years of starting the mussel farm. Despite being so affordable, mussels are a healthy type of seafood and are high in protein and other nutrients. You can eat four portions of mussel meat per week without getting ill.