The mussel is an edible bivalve mollusk from the sea. It is one of the most common animal species on the Dutch and Belgian coast. In total, about 57 million kilos of mussels are grown in the Netherlands, of which only 4% is eaten in the Netherlands. Our southern neighbours are crazy about it: about 64% of our Zeeland mussels are consumed in Belgium. China is the largest mussel producer in the world. Whether they come from the piers of IJmuiden, Hoek van Holland or the Zeeland Yrseke: they all continue under the name Zeeland mussel. They are all watered before they go on sale in the Oosterschelde, also known as rinsed sand-free.
“Our southern neighbours are crazy about it: about 64% of our Zeeland mussels are consumed in Belgium.”
The color of the shell is often purple-blue. In young animals the shells are often still slightly transparent and radiant blue. The older the mussel, the blacker the shell. The inside is often beautifully lined with mother of pearl.
Fertilisation takes place outside the shell, in the sea water. Millions of eggs and sperm cells are injected into the water more or less at the same time. It starts with the larva, which starts a planktonic life. Like regular plankton, it is carried through the sea by the current. After a few weeks, a so-called larval shell is formed, which continues to grow as it flows through the sea. Until this shell is about 2mm big and too heavy for the floating way of life.
A crucial phase begins. The shell sinks to the bottom and has little room to control. You must have the luck of landing on the perfect surface by your side, just like not being eaten by the many predators on the seabed. There is therefore only a small part of the larval shells that survives.
“Whether they come from the piers of IJmuiden, Hoek van Holland or Yrseke in Zeeland: they all continue under the name Zeeland mussel.”
When the mussels are 1 centimeter in size, it is mussel seed. When they reach a size of about four centimeters, they are called half-grown mussels. We don’t eat them until after a year or two, they are about five to seven centimeters.
Sustainable dream delicacy
Mussels are rich in protein and packed with minerals, vitamins, phosphorus, iron and iodine. With a fat content of 2.5% you can eat mussels proverbially until you weigh an ounce. Another dream delicacy that fits everyone’s diet. Read more about the oyster as a healthy guilty pleasure here.
Mussel season and the R in the month
The mussel season officially runs from mid-July to mid-April. Outside of that you can get fine mussels, except that they are frozen or imported. The R in the month is meaningless since we’ve been driving refrigerated transport. Do you want to know exactly how that works? Read more about it in the Fruits de Mer blog.
Do you know the Muffin Man?
Did you know that our mussel man song was originally the English Muffin Man? It is a Dutch translation of the English children’s song “Do you know the muffin man”? View the original here.
Mussel turns a problem into a pearl
Just like with oysters, a pearl sometimes grows in a mussel. Such a small, dark pearl grows from a grain of sand that has ended up in the mussel. The mussel regards the sand grain as an intruder and fights it with mother-of-pearl.
At Bistrot Neuf Amsterdam you can enjoy delicious Zeeland mussels seven days a week. Fresh from the auction, cooked with love. Delicious with white wine, pernod, fennel and herb butter, served with fries and salad.