If you live near the coast chances are good you’ve tasted a few hard shelled clams in your time. They are quite delicious and easy to dig. If you are fortunate enough to live near coastal waters, partake in a family fun trip and dig your dinner. If not, many seafood stores carry them year-round.
Rhode Island stakes claim as the home of the Quahog yet hard shell clams can be found in many eastern Americas’ shores. Although I think we are the only state that calls them Quahogs vs clams. Rumor has it the name was coined by the Narragansett Indians.
Hard shelled clams come in various sizes, the smaller the more tender. The largest are the least tender and mostly used for chowders and stuffies. The smallest, often called littlenecks, are mostly eaten raw on the half shell with a squeeze of lemon or cocktail sauce. The medium-sized variety are used in many dishes most common of which is Clams Casino.
Digging for Quahogs is not difficult but you certainly do get a workout. It’s a fun activity for the entire family and the reward at dinnertime is unsurpassed. Low tide is the best and easiest time to find them. The quahogs live only 4 or 5 inches under the sand and while you can feel for them with your feet, It is easier to use a clamming rake. The shells are hard and can be sharp, so I like to wear some old sneakers and opt for the rake. Pick a spot and start to rake. You’ll know you’ve hit one when the rake hits something hard. Dig around and he’s sure to be hiding in there. Generally you will find them in groups, so where there is one…there are more. Once you find a good spot, work it for a while.
States and sometimes communities have their own laws and rules about sport clamming so be sure to check with the officials before-hand. You will likely need a little measuring ring as most places only allow the gathering of clams larger than an inch across. This preserves the future of the wildlife. That’s about all there is to it, have fun!