The mussel season starts at the end of September. There are about 20 licence holders in Conwy who go out in their own boats with rakes with long handles to pick up the mussels from the deepest water to get the best quality mussels because they’ve always been submerged in the water and so been feeding all the time. Then they get put in the purification tanks for two days before being packaged and sent to market in England.
You do get pearls in mussels, but only very small, soft ones. They’re not very valuable although it has been said though that there’s a pearl from a Conwy mussel in the Crown Jewels but they’d have been a different species of mussel to the ones we fish for.
In the winter we process the mussels and in the summer we clean out the building and open a mussel fishing museum for tourists. We leave the machinery and the tanks for people to see and we have information on the history of mussel fishing in the area.
The industry goes back hundreds of years, to very old times, though they didn’t eat the mussels then. They used to stamp on them to get the pearls out of the shells and feed the rest to the chickens!
Mussels have been sold at market as food for about 80 or 90 years. They used to go to market by train but now they go by road.
Book a table and experience Conwy mussels, call 01492 564 100
Classic Mussel Recipe
Have you been inspired to cook your own mussels? Here is a recipe from our Executive Head Chef Sue Leacy, for a delicious Moule Mariniere that will be sure to satisfy your taste buds.
“I like them boiled in the shell. You have to steam them to get the fish out of the shell and then I like them fried in a pan with bacon. But lots have them in the shell with wine and garlic these days, which is quite nice too.”
Ingredients for 4 people
2 large shallots
1 clove garlic
100ml dry white wine
200ml double cream
25grms chopped fresh parsley
- Clean the mussels by removing all the barnacles and the beards from the outside of the shells in plenty of cold running water.
- Discard any mussels that are damaged or ones that are fully open and don’t close if you give them a squeeze
- Peel and finely chop the shallots and garlic
- Heat a heavy-based saucepan that has a tight fitting lid
- Add the mussels, shallots, garlic and white wine to the pan, cover with the lid and cook until the mussels open. This should take only 2-3 minutes
- When the mussels are open remove from the pan with a slotted spoon
- Reduce the cooking liquor by half then add the double cream
- Bring the sauce back to the boil and add the chopped parsley
- Drop the mussels back into the sauce to re-heat