Scientific NameMercenaria mercenaria
Market FormsLive in the shell, fresh shucked (in pint or quart containers), canned, frozen.
SizeSize varies according to grade:
Chowders - 4-6 inches in width
Cherrystones - 3-4 inches
Top Necks - 2 1/2 to 3 inches
Middle Necks - 2 to 2 1/2 inches
Little Necks - 1 1/2 - 2 inches
Taste/TextureFlavorful, slightly salty. Generally, the larger the clam, the chewier.The chowder clam, as the name implies, is best suited for chowders, fritters or stuffing.The smaller cherrystones are popular in clambakes or steamed.The smallest little necks are delicious raw or steamed on the half shell.
Nutritional Value74 Calories (100 grams, 3.5 oz.)
SubstitutabilityThe clam has a very distinctive taste and texture not easily replaced; its closest cousin in flavor is the conch.
FolkloreAlso commonly known as the “quahog”, the clam was first used for barter as a form of money or “wampum.”It was probably valued above other shells because of the dark purple inside the shell.
HarvestingHard clams are commercially harvested by day boats using hand and patent tongs.
Safety/QualityVirginia’s waters and products are regulated by federal and state agencies including the FDA, the Virginia Department of Health, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, insuring that only safe wholesome seafood reaches our customers.