What is the difference between a hard shell clam, a soft shell clam, and a surf clam?
There are hundreds of species of clams around the world with approximately one and one half million tons harvested annually. In the United States there are 14 species of clams harvested with only five having any commercial importance.
Atlantic hard shell, surf clams, ocean quahogs, soft shell, all from the east coast and Manila clams from the west coast.
Quahogs, surf clams and Manila clams are used for chowders, clam cakes, stuffed clams, etc.
Hard shell clams are the most popular clam sold in the shell and soft shell clams, also called belly clams, are the steamers and fryers of New England.
Most foodservice clams are sold in a 51 ounce can. The important factor in canned clams is the drained weight. The drained weight of a 51 ounce can will vary from 22 ounces all the way down to 16 ounces. With a 6 ounce per can difference on a case containing 12 cans that would be over 4 lbs less clams. At a value of $2.50 per pound the value difference of the two cases would be $10.00.
There are a lot of canned clams sold in food service, especially with clam chowder being the number one selling soup in the country. If you are not getting your share of the business because your price is too high, suggest doing a drained weight test with your customers.