Most mussels sold in our supermarkets and fishmongers are cultivated rather than wild. There are several types of mussels, including European or blue mussels and larger green-lipped ones from New Zealand.

The flesh, at its best, is plump and juicy and varies in colour from off-white to light orange. Fresh mussels are normally bought live in their shell although frozen green-lipped mussels are also available.


They should be used as soon as possible, on the same day as you bring them home. If you have to keep mussels for a few hours - tip them in a deep bowl and cover with a couple of layers of damp newspaper. Don't soak them in water though - it ruins them.

Live mussels should have shiny shells and feel full when handled. Before cooking, they need to be cleaned under cold running water and any beards removed with a bristle brush.

When you buy mussels, they should all have closed shells. If any are open, give them a firm tap on the kitchen counter on their base and they should close after a few seconds. Discard any that don't close, as they run the risk of contamination.

Mussels are usually steamed in a little flavoured liquid until the shells have opened. They're often baked or grilled on the half-shell too.

Cooked mussels work well with pastas, and make tasteful additions to rice-based dishes such as paellas and risottos.