Freshly dug steamer clams are a summer tradition for many coastal towns. Unfortunately, the steamer clam harvest and eating season is short. However, the solution to this dilemma is surprisingly simple: freeze them. Depending on how you plan to cook the clams after thawing -- you may freeze steamer clams directly in the shell or opt to pre-cook them -- shuck and clean them before freezing. Either way, freezing a few extra quarts of clams is easy and extends the enjoyment of eating steamer clams for weeks -- well beyond the summer season.

Scrub the Shells

Place live steamer clams in the bottom of a sink and rinse them well with fresh water.

Scrub the outside of the clam shells with a scrub brush to remove excess sand and debris

Rinse the steamer clams again with fresh water, and place the cleaned steamers into a 5-gallon bucket.

Mix a 3-percent brine solution using a ratio of 1/2 cup of brine to 1 gallon of fresh water.

Cover the steamers with the 3-percent brine/water solution.

Soak the steamer clams in the brine solution for several hours to allow the clams to expel any grit or sand still inside of them.

Pour the brine and clams into the sink and rinse the clams again.

Freeze in the Shell

Place the cleaned, live steamer clams -- with the shell on -- into a plastic freezer bags, removing as much excess air from the bag as possible.

Label the bags with the date, using a permanent marker.

Place the clams into the freezer; freeze them for three to six months at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pre-Cook and Freeze

Add water to the bottom of the steamer pot according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Place the rinsed steamer clams into the steamer basket inside the steamer pot.

Steam the clams for one to five minutes or until the shells open, then remove the cooked clams and place them in a colander to cool, using a slotted spoon.

Shuck the precooked clams from the shell using your fingers; discard the clam shells.

Peel the dark skin off of the clam necks, then remove the oval-shaped stomach and dark contents, which can include phytoplankton, microalgae and sediment.

Discard all the neck skin and clam stomachs after removal.

Place the shucked steamer clams into plastic freezer bags and ladle some of the clam juice from the bottom of the steamer pot into the bags.

Remove as much excess air as possible from the freezer bags and seal them; label the bags with the date, using a permanent marker.

Place the clams into the freezer; freeze them for three to six months at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.


As an alternative to removing the stomach, slice the stomach open, remove the contents and rinse the clams clean in the brine solution.


Discard any clams that do not open after cooking.

About the Author

Roxanne McHenry

Roxanne McHenry has written online marketing articles and courses for Web publications including Affiliate Classroom and Web Pro News since 2002. McHenry has a B.A. in Japanese language and literature, and lived and worked in Japan as a teacher and technical translator.