Which Type of clam to buy depends on how you want to prepare them. Clams get tougher and chewier as they get larger, making these sizes ideal for chowders, stuffing, frying, and other cooked preperations. Choose smaller sizes when quickly steaming, grilling, or eating raw.
Shells Unlimited typically sells clams in 100 count bags. However, special lower count orders are also available.
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- Chowders - These are huge hard-shell clams (Mercenaria mercenaria) perfect for soups, stews, and, of course, chowders - any dish in which they have some long, slow cooking time to make sure they're tender.
- Cherrystones - Like littlenecks, cherrystones are Atlantic hard-shell clams (Mercenaria mercenaria). Their name refers to their size, not their species. They are bigger than littlenecks, perfect for pasta sauces or grilling. There are those who like them shucked, raw, on the half-shell.
- Top Necks - Topnecks are hard-shell clams (Mercenaria mercenaria) that measure about two inches across. A bit bigger than littlenecks, they are still tender and tasty raw on the half-shell or steamed, but also big enough to take to grilling nicely - top the grilled ones with a bit of herb butter.
- Middle Necks - The next to the smallest of the hard-shell clams (Mercenaria mercenaria), measuring an inch and a half across (measured at the hinge). Like little necks these are also the clams most often seen raw, on the half-shell on seafood platters.
- Little Necks - The smallest of the hard-shell clams (Mercenaria mercenaria), measuring just over one inch across (measured at the hinge). These are the clams most often seen raw, on the half-shell on seafood platters.