When are Oysters in Season in the UK?

Oysters in a bucket - When are oysters in season in the UK?

Oysters are in season in the UK from the 1st of September to the 30th of April.

So the colder months of autumn, winter and spring.

The general rule is that oysters, as well as other bivalves, should only be collected and eaten when there is an ‘r’ in the month.

What months should you eat oysters?

Oysters are best eaten in the colder months of September, October, November, December, January and February.

This is not to say that you can’t eat them in the other warmer months, but be aware that they may not be in their peak condition due to them spawning and the water quality not always being the best.

Where do the best oysters come from in the UK? Where to find wild oysters in the UK

The best oysters come from the cleanest waters.

However, each area is said to impart its own different flavours and therefore, it is a matter of opinion as to which area produces the best oysters flavour-wise.

The main commercial oyster bed locations in the UK are in Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, Kent and Essex.

Oysters from Pyefleet in Colchester are the most highly prized commercially and as such command the highest prices.

The west coast of Scotland is also highly regarded for oysters.

Be warned though, all oysters in Scotland are the property of the crown estate and a permit must be obtained before collecting wild ones.

Unfortunately, this permit will not be freely given.

If you are collecting yourself, then the above will be of little consequence.

Rest assured that as long as the oysters are in season and from clean waters, will be tasty – regardless of location.

The 5 golden bivalve rules

These are unashamedly stolen from John Right’s book – Edible Seashore and are a great set of rules to keep in mind when foraging for filter feeders (bivalves).

It’s also a great book to grab if you have an interest in coastal foraging.

1. Consult the locals

Talk to local fishermen and check with local authorities about the water quality in the area where you are looking to collect oysters.

2. Only collect from obviously clean areas

This sounds fairly obvious, but it needs to be said…don’t collect from narrow estuaries, harbours, marinas, or outflow pipes.

Oysters are filter feeders, so use your common sense on this one.

3. Only collect shellfish when there is an ‘r’ in the month

Whilst not relevant to every situation, this rule does have good reasoning behind it.

If the month doesn’t have an r in its name, then it’s one of the summer months and is when the mussels are most active (filtering lots of water), as well as the warmer water causing algal blooms and more bacteria being in the water.

As oysters are filter feeders, the above does not exactly help matters.

4. Always thoroughly cook the oyster

Unless you are 100% certain that your oysters come from grade-A waters, the only way of being sure that you have killed all bacteria and viruses is the cook them thoroughly.

Cooking will not however remove any algal toxins, which is why you need to be very careful about the time of year you collect and know the waters.

Simply put, just like mussels, don’t eat raw oysters unless you are 100% sure of the water quality and even then you risk it.

Cooking minimises this risk.

5. Always check for signs of life before cooking

Check that the oyster shut tightly when you tap them on the side of the cooking pot. If not discard.

Equally, if confident enough to go down the raw route, it’s always a good idea to smell the oyster once you open it. It should simply smell of the sea.

Oyster On Rocks - When are oysters in season in the UK?
Some foraged oysters and other finds

Where to find wild oysters in the UK – Where can I pick oysters in the UK?

Oysters are considered a rare find these days for the coastal forager.

They can be found in the South of England, Devon, Cornwall etc, as well as the Thames estuary and Solent. Northern Ireland also.

The West Coast of Scotland has relatively good numbers of oysters.

However, due to Scottish Law, you are forbidden from collecting native oysters, as they belong to the Crown.

You can get a permit, but these are not easily obtained.

You can of course find wild oysters in other parts of the UK, but the above locations are the main strongholds.

Are oysters good for you?

Yes, fresh oysters (from clean waters) are good for you.

They contain:

  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Selenium
  • Vitamin D
  • Iron
  • Magnesium.

All of the above can contribute towards a healthy diet.

Can you eat oysters all year round? Why can’t you eat oysters in the summer?

No. Oysters should not be eaten in the summer as this is when they spawn and are not in their best condition.

Additionally, the water quality is not always great in the summer due to algal blooms etc, which is why oysters are usually only eaten in the colder months.

Do you chew oysters? How do you eat oysters?

This all depends on if you are eating them raw or not.

If eating raw, then you generally don’t chew the oyster and just swallow it straight down.

If eating cooked, then you chew the oyster before swallowing.

Are oysters better raw or cooked?

If eating raw, you may want to swallow the oyster straight down, without chewing.

When served in a restaurant, this is the general way they will be served to you.

You do usually put some lemon or tabasco on though to add to the flavour because the simple fact is – they don’t really taste of much!

However, as you are collecting oysters yourself, you get to choose their ‘end game’.

Having eaten them both ways, I personally believe they taste better cooked, fried in butter, or grilled in their shell on a barbeque/fire.

When cooked, they taste like a ‘fluffy cloud’, which is quite nice and my recommendation if you manage to locate any.

Added to the above argument is that unless you are certain that you are certain you have collected oysters in grade-A waters, then it is always safer to cook them.

Can you eat oysters straight from the sea?

Yes, you can eat oysters straight from the sea, providing that you are confident they are from clean waters and have followed all the usual precautions listed above.

Can you eat too many oysters?

Yes. Just like most things, you can eat too many oysters.

Oysters contain high doses of vitamins and minerals which can be too much for the system.

Stick to normal quantities, such as 3-4 oysters and you should be fine.

Are there pearl oysters in the UK?

Yes, there are ‘Pearl Oysters’ in the UK as such, but not the type that you would be making any jewellery from.

The most common type of oyster found in the UK is the Pacific Oyster (Crassostrea gigas) and our native oyster (Ostrea edulis).

Both can apparently produce a small pearl, but it is not often noticed and usually eaten.

Proper ‘pearl oysters‘ (Pinctada margaritiferus) are found outside the UK – mainly in China -and are produced commercially for this purpose.

Final word

Please exercise restraint when picking oysters and only take what you are going to eat that day.

They take a few years to reach maturity and if they are over-exploited, this will have an impact on future populations as well as the local ecosystem.

Disclaimer:

Collecting oysters brings with it its own set of dangers.

This comes from both environmental conditions, such as tides, wind, sun etc as well as the risk of getting it wrong and giving yourself food poisoning etc.

Please treat the above as a general guide only and cross reference with other trusted information sources, before you harvest and eat any oysters.


Hungry for more? Take a look at our other coastal foraging articles which include mussels, razor clams and samphire.

Where Can You Find Razor Clams in the UK?

Where Can You Find Razor Clams in the UK?

You can find razor clams in good numbers all around the UK, with the exception of the east coast of England and the north coast of Devon and Cornwall where they are less common.

They are also known as razor shells and in Scotland are known as ‘Spoots’, due to the jet of water that they can sometimes shoot out from their burrow.

There are four native species of razor clams in the UK:

  • E. siliqua
  • Ensis ensis
  • Solen marginatus
  • E. arcuatus

E. siliqua and Ensis ensis both prefer finer, sometimes muddier sand, with Solen marginatus and E. arcuatus preferring a grittier environment.

All species are edible and more importantly – all are tasty.

How do you find razor clams on the beach?

As above, razor clams can be found on sandy/muddy shores all around the UK.

A sign that they might be there is old, empty shells, that are washed up on the beach.

These shells however are only an indication, not a guarantee.

The best time to forage for them is on a low spring tide, when the water is at its lowest level possible, therefore exposing more ground.

Ideal weather conditions are very little wind or ‘chop’.

This might be a sheltered bay or similar.

Now that you have these ideal conditions, what you are looking for are the ‘keyhole’ shapes in the sand.

This ‘keyhole’ is what the razor clam sticks its siphons out of to feed.

Should you locate one, there is a chance that there may be a razor clam below.

You may find that when you place your foot nearby to the hole, you see a little spurt of water shoot out of the hole.

This is a good indication that there is a razor clam below.

Now for extraction…

The best and preferred method is to now pour some table salt down this hole and wait.

All being well, the razor clam will be irritated by this salt and should eject itself, where you can then carefully lift it out of its burrow.

Be careful not to pull too vigorously.

All being well, you should now have a nice fresh razor clam in your hands.

Now if you have found one, there will likely be more, so keep looking for those keyholes.

The video below gives a great overview:

Where can I dig for razor clams in the UK?

There are usually no restrictions to where you can dig for razor clams, but do check local bylaws.

Also, if you are digging for them, ensure you do the right thing and fill any holes you create.

It’s both unsightly and also risks somebody falling down one and twisting an ankle, should they be out there.

What do razor clams taste like?

Cooked razor clam taste like a sweet scallop, which is very nice indeed.

If you like seafood, you will likely appreciate the taste of a razor clam.

Obviously, you want your razor clams to be fresh, so eat them asap if you are collecting yourself, or ensure that any that you purchase are in tip-top condition.

Are razor clams seasonal?

Yes, razor clams are seasonal because they are best collected in the autumn and winter months.

Razor clams are filter feeders, and just like mussels, are best collected outside of the summer months, when the water quality is better.

The general rule of avoiding collecting them when there isn’t an ‘R’ in the month is a good one to follow and ensures you are outside of summer.

Is it legal to catch razor clams with salt?

Yes, it’s perfectly legal to catch razor clams with salt in the UK. In fact, this is one of the preferred methods.

The salt irritates the razor clam and it then ejects itself from its burrow, hopefully into your awaiting grasp.

Are razor clams healthy to eat?

Yes, razor clams are considered to be a very healthy meal.

They contain vitamins B1 and B12, minerals including calcium, iron and phosphorous, as well as being high in protein and containing omega-3 fatty acids.

How do you know if razor clams are alive?

If you want to check your razor clams are still alive, you can touch the fleshy part gently and it should withdraw back into its shell.

You can keep your razor clams fresh by covering with a damp cloth and storing them somewhere cool.

If you are storing them like this, make sure it’s not for too long, as razor clams need to be eaten as fresh as possible.

Storing overnight in a fridge or cool box is usually ok, but any longer than this and you want to be thinking about freezing them.

Can you eat razor clams raw?

You can eat razor clams raw, but as with most shellfish, it is advisable to cook them.

This ensures any bugs and viruses that may be in the razor clam are killed.

Cooking is therefore the safest way to eat them.

Do you need to clean razor clams?

Yes, you should give each razor clam a good rinse in fresh water before cooking in order to remove as much sand and other debri as possible.

Generally speaking, a quick rinse under the tap or clean water source will be all that is needed, but if your clams are extra sandy, they may need a bit more attention.

How do you cook razor clams in the UK?

You can follow any good clam recipe to cook your razor clams, but here’s a very simple one to try…

Steamed razor clams

Heat some fresh water in a saucepan and add some white wine, garlic (if you have any) and bring to a simmer.

Next, place your previously cleaned clams inside a ‘steaming implement’.

This can sit inside, or on top of the saucepan.

Position in place, so that they can be steamed by the liquid below.

Place a lid on top, so that you can trap the steam and allow to cook for approx 3-4 minutes, until the shells open up and the meat loses its translucent appearance.

Carefully remove the now piping razor clams and allow to cool.

All the clams should be open. If any are still closed, discard them.

Now, the only bit that you want to remove is the ‘black bit’.

This is the razor clams stomach and is best to be taken out, although if you forget, or you are feeling a bit adventurous, then you will probably be more than ok.

You can now lay out your steamed razor clams on the plate of your choice, squeeze over a bit of lemon (if you have it) and serve. Delicious!

Barbecued razor clams

Place your previously cleaned razor clams on top of a barbeque and cook until the shells open and the meat loses its translucent colour.

This won’t take long so be careful not to over-cook.

Discard any that haven’t opened.

Remove from the heat, allow to cool a little, remove the ‘black bit’ and serve with a squeeze of lemon.

Nice and simple.

Other razor clam FAQs

What do razor clams eat?

Razor clams are filter feeders and eat plankton and other small detritus which they extract from the water.

Why are they called razor clams?

They are called razor clams because they look like old-style cut-throat razors.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no hard evidence that people ever used these to actually shave, but it’s a nice thought.

What are razor clams used for?

Razor clams are mainly used for eating.

There are not many records of them being used for anything other than this, although they do look like a cut-throat razor.

Can razor clams hurt you?

No. Razor clams are unlikely to hurt you unless you step on one with bare feet.

They have a sharp shell, so they cause a bit of pain if you step on one, but the shell usually crushes underneath, so the pain is short-lived.

Summary

Hopefully, this has answered where can you find razor clams in the UK for you.

We have loads more great articles on our site.

For starters, why not try our posts on foraging for Limpets and Mussels. See you there!

Reference links:

Can You Pick Mussels Off the Beach in the UK?

Can You Pick Mussels Off the Beach in the UK?

Yes, you can pick mussels off the beach in the UK.

However, you need to be very cautious!

In the UK, the general rule of thumb is that you should avoid harvesting them during any month that doesn’t have an ‘r’ in it.

So, refrain from collecting them in the warmer months of May, June, July and August.

The reason for this is that algal blooms are more likely to be present during these summer months and as mussels are filter feeders, they can ingest these algae, which can be toxic to humans if we then go on to eat them.

The 5 golden bivalve rules

These are unashamedly stolen from John Right’s book – Edible Seashore and are a great set of rules to keep in mind when foraging for filter feeders (bivalves).

It’s also a great book to grab if you have an interest in coastal foraging.

1. Consult the locals

Talk to local fishermen and check with local authorities about the water quality in the area where you are looking to pick mussels.

2. Only collect from obviously clean areas

This sounds fairly obvious, but it needs to be said…don’t collect from narrow estuaries, harbours, marinas, or outflow pipes.

Mussels are filter feeders, so use your common sense on this one.

3. Only collect shellfish (mussels) when there is an ‘r’ in the month

Whilst not relevant to every situation, this rule does have good reasoning behind it.

If the month doesn’t have an r in its name, then it is one of the summer months and is when the mussels are most active (filtering lots of water), as well as the warmer water causing algal blooms and more bacteria being in the water.

As mussels are filter feeders, the above does not exactly help matters.

The mussels are also not at their peak condition at this time of year, so all things considered this old adage has a bit of truth behind it and you are usually best off waiting for the cooler months (with an ‘r’ in).

4. Always thoroughly cook the mussels

Unless you are 100% certain that your mussels have come from grade A waters, the only way of being sure that you have killed all bacteria and viruses is the cook the mussels thoroughly.

Cooking will not however remove any algal toxins, which is why you need to be very careful about the time of year you collect and know the waters.

Simply put, don’t eat mussels raw unless you are 100% sure of the water quality and even then you are risking it.

Cooking your mussels minimises the risk.

5. Always check for signs of life before cooking

Check that the mussels shut when you tap them on the side of the cooking pot. If not discard.

Equally, once cooked, only eat the ones that have their shells open.

Can you take mussels from the beach legally?

Yes, as long as local bylaws allow, you can take mussels from the beach in England and Wales without having to worry too much about permissions.

You still need to make sure that you collect them from an area where they are regularly covered by the tide (known as the intertidal zone), and ensure that the water quality is good before harvesting.

It gets a bit more complicated in Scotland as technically all mussels are owned by the Crown.

If you are following the rules, then you should seek permission from the Crown Estate before gathering them.

In reality, if you are just harvesting mussels for your own use, then you are very unlikely to find yourself in trouble and the collecting of wild mussels for personal use is generally tolerated.

Oysters are a different matter though, so it may be a good idea to follow the rules in Scotland if you are collecting these.

How do you harvest wild mussels?

Check with your local authority to see if any kind of license is needed.

Once you know you have permission and once you have found some, whether that be on some rocks or other structure, it’s as easy as getting hold of one and gently twisting it off.

Try not to dislodge the others in the process and just select the mussels that you want.

Is there a size limit on mussels?

This varies depending on the area and local authority, but generally speaking, the minimum in the UK is 45mm, which should be taken along the longest section of the shell.

Any smaller than this and you are damaging the next mussel generation and there is not going to be much meat inside either, so keep your collecting to the adult sizes.

How do you clean mussels from the beach?

An alternative method for processing mussels is soaking them in salt water for 20 minutes and then discarding any that float to the surface.

As mentioned below though, live mussels can potentially have air trapped in them, so this method errs very much on the side of caution.

You can then also tap any open mussels on the side of the pan/bucket etc and they should close up.

If not, then they are dead and should be discarded.

You can use a knife or similar utensil to pull the mussel beards away, leaving you with some nice, clean mussels ready for cooking.

Are some mussels poisonous?

They can be if they are filtering in unclean water and have picked up toxins.

This is why you need to be confident of the water quality in which the mussels you are collecting have been living.

Are mussels a healthy seafood to eat?

Yes. Mussels are considered a healthy seafood to eat.

They contain many beneficial vitamins and minerals including:

> Protein – Mussels are a high-quality, high-protein food, with similar levels to that of red meat.

> Iron – Mussels contain a healthy dose of iron, which is known to be good for your blood system.

> Vitamin A – which is great for your skin, immune system and eyes.

> B12 – an essential vitamin for your heart and overall health.

So yes, all in all, mussels are a great addition to your diet and have many health benefits.

How can you tell if mussels are fresh?

Assuming you have collected them from a clean water area, then follow the below.

If any float discard them and then tap any open mussels on the side of the pan/bowl and they should close. If not, discard these also.

Once cooked, eat only the mussels that have fully opened.

If you follow the above you shouldn’t go too far wrong, but do make sure to check out the 5 golden rules towards the top of this article.

Can you pick mussels off rocks?

Yes, you can pick mussels off the rocks; that is where you are most likely to find them.

One of the best times to collect them is a low spring tide when the water drops considerably.

You obviously need to be very wary of your surroundings though and take all necessary precautions.

Can you pick mussels in June? Can you eat mussels in the summer?

Although you technically can pick mussels in June in the UK, it is not advisable.

Remember the advice of not picking mussels when there isn’t an R in the month.

So May to August.

The reason for this is that the mussels are generally in poorer condition due to spawning during the summer months, as well as the warmer weather usually bringing in the algal blooms.

These can then be taken in by the mussels filtering system, with the risk of this toxicity then being passed on to you when you eat them.

It must be said that this risk is low, but it is a risk all the same.

So the safest bet is to keep it to the colder months when the mussels are in better condition and the algal blooms have disappeared.

Do mussels float in water? Should I discard mussels that float?

They can do if they have air trapped in them, however, they will usually sink.

There is an old method of checking mussels whereby they were soaked in water and if they floated they were discarded as they were thought to be dead, but as you can see, this is not always the case.

Live mussels can float too.

This does provide a belt and braces approach though.

How do you open mussels?

If you want to open up live mussels for cooking via an alternative method, such as frying them etc, then, as long as they are large enough, you can open them up with a knife as shown in the video below

Summary

Can You Pick Mussels Off the Beach in the UK? Yes, you can! But you need to be aware of the risks.

Follow the 5 Golden bivalve rules above and treat your harvest with care and you shouldn’t go too far wrong.

If you are interested in coastal foraging, then be sure to also check out our popular article on Limpets, which can be found here.

Also, I would recommend taking a look at John Wight’s book (River Cottage), Edible Seashore.

It has lots more info and facts for the coastal forager to get their teeth into.

You can find a copy here.

Other mussel FAQs

When is mussel season UK?

The mussel season in the UK runs from September, through to April.

These are the colder months of the year.

Remember the old adage about not collecting/eating mussels when there is an ‘R’ in the month.

Do you eat the whole inside of a mussel?

Yes, you can eat the whole inside of a mussel. Even the black bit!

All of the insides are edible, so, as long as the mussel is fresh, don’t think too much about it and enjoy the flavours.

What is the black stuff in a mussel?

The ‘black sack’ is the undigested plankton and other microscopic creatures that are still within the mussel’s digestive tract.

As long as you are collecting from a clean area, then this black stuff is perfectly safe to eat and just adds to the flavour.

Don’t think about it too much and get stuck in!

Are mussels freshwater or saltwater?

In the UK, there are both freshwater and saltwater varieties, although similar, they are different species.

Saltwater mussels (Mytilus edulis) are usually found on rocky shores, submerged structures and occasionally attached to seaweed.

This article focuses on the saltwater variety (UK).

There are however multiple freshwater mussel varieties in the UK.

These being:

> Duck Mussel (Anodonta anatina)

> Swan Mussel (Anodonta cygnea)

> Painter’s Mussel (Unio pictorum)

For more info on the freshwater mussel varieties (UK) the Nature Spot site has some good info here.

Is it cruel to cook mussels alive? Do mussels feel pain?

This is a matter of opinion.

Although some would argue that it is cruel to cook anything alive, the fact is that unless you intend to eat them raw (in which you will kill them by eating), in order to eat them in the standard way, you need to cook them somehow.

What happens if you eat mussel beard?

Nothing happens! Mussel beard is edible, if not that tasty, so don’t worry if you eat any.

However, the best bet is to clean them off beforehand.

Do mussels have eyes?

No mussels do not have eyes as such, but they are thought to have sensors that can tell the difference between light and dark, so as to be able to close up if they feel threatened.

Disclaimer:

Collecting mussels bring with it its own set of dangers, both from environmental conditions, such as tides, wind, sun etc as well as the risk of getting it wrong and giving yourself food poisoning etc.

Please treat the above as a general guide only and cross reference with other trusted information sources, before you harvest and eat any mussels.

Common Limpet Foraging – The Ultimate Guide

Common Limpet - Coastal Bushcraft Foraging

Found on rocky shorelines across the UK, the common limpet is an almost guaranteed find for the shoreline hunter and is a handy addition to any foraging trip. 

With that in mind, let’s look at some limpet facts…

What are limpets?

Limpets are small, cone-shaped creatures that live on rocks in the inter-tidal zone.

They are usually spotted at low tide clamped to rocks and should you try and pick one up, will nearly always clamp down and become immovable. They are seriously impressive in this regard.

In this clamped state, they don’t really do a lot, but once the tide returns, and they have submerged once again, they ‘spring to life’ and start going about their business of feeding on their chosen home.

There are two main types to be found in Britain, the common limpet and the slipper limpet.

Today we will focus on the common limpet.

What do limpets eat?

At high tide, the limpet feeds by slowly moving around its chosen rock, feeding on algae and similar vegetative marine life.

Although classed as herbivores, they are also thought to eat small creatures like young barnacles etc.

What is the scientific name for limpets?

The scientific name for the common limpet is patella vulgata.

Patella vulgata are the European common limpets and as the name suggests – are of the Patella genus

These are marine gastropod molluscs and are in the Patellidae family.

Can you eat common limpets? Are common limpets edible?

Yes, you can eat common limpets providing you follow the advice below.

Although I can say with confidence that there are certainly tastier wild treats to be had, the limpet is certainly worth knowing about from a wild food perspective, even if that said food does sometimes resemble the texture of pencil rubbers.

Are limpets healthy to eat?

Yes, as long as they were a healthy limpet when you collected them and you have stored and prepared them correctly, limpets are a high protein snack, with many many other vitamins and minerals to boot.

Do limpets have eyes?

Yes, the common limpet has a left and a right ‘eye‘, but there is little research on what they can actually view with these.

They also have two antennae for feeling their way around and sensing. The combination of the two helps them build up a picture of what is around them when hunting for food.

Can limpets swim?

Juvenile limpets spend the first part of their lives as free-swimming planktonic creatures and therefore do technically swim.

Once they mature though, they find a home that they like and stay put.

Fully grown limpets do not swim. They use their foot to travel across surfaces.

Where are limpet shells found?

The common limpet can be found in coastal areas all over the British Isles

They are not usually hard to find and are generally located in shallow water, on rocks or cliffs that are within the intertidal zone.

What is unique about the intertidal coastline?

The intertidal coastline or intertidal zone is unique in the fact that it is submerged by seawater around 2 times a day.

It is essentially the section of shoreline that is between the high and low watermark.

This area is fully submerged at high tide and then dry again at low tide.

Creatures and plants must therefore be able to survive in both of these states.

This makes for a special environment that supports many different creatures including limpets, starfish, sea anemones, sea stars, mussels, winkles, crabs and many more.

How do you identify a limpet?

What does a limpet look like?

The common limpet is cone-shaped and easy to identify. There will often be many limpets attached to one rock, in varying sizes.

Their shape and ability to tightly attach themselves to rocks allows them to remain in place – even whilst getting pounded by strong waves.

Do limpets bite?

No, well they wont bite you anyway.

Limpets have a super tongue which they use to feed with. This is known as a radula.

The radula is similar to a tongue, but has rows of tiny ‘teeth’ attached.

As you can probably imagine, this radula is extremely tough, as it needs to be able to scrape food off rocks when feeding.

Indeed, UK engineers discovered that the teeth attached to this are made from the toughest biological material that has ever been tested.

Impressive stuff!

Limpets will generally stay in a localised area and not stray too far from their home, which they will always come back to when the tide goes back out.

Over time, this can cause an indentation on the rock which is known as a ‘home scar’. 

The limpet clamps down on this section of rock, using its powerful ‘foot’ and remains there until the tide comes back in and it’s ready to move and feed again.

How do you forage for limpets?

Common limpet collected in bucket - Seaweed - common limpet foraging
A little seaweed and water helps keep the limpets fresh

Common Limpets can be collected all year round.

Ensure that the area you intend to forage from has a regular and strong tide to ensure that the limpets are regularly submerged.

Also, check that the local area has good water quality and is free from pollutants.

The common limpet is an important part of the ecosystem, keeping the rock’s algal growth in check.

It is vital therefore that you do not gather too many from one area, as an imbalance can occur.

Good practice would be to take only one from each rock or immediate area, leaving the others to carry on their good work.

If there is only one on a rock, then leave it be. Do not over-collect in one area.

Fill your bucket or collecting vessel with fresh seawater and place some carefully collected seaweed in as well if available.

This will help to keep your limpets fresh.

How do you remove limpets from rocks?

A variety of tools can be used to prize the limpet away, including an old chisel or sharp implement such as a knife etc, but a rock will usually do and is usually readily available.

One thing to know when collecting limpets is that you only really get one good chance at them.

Although they will be stuck to the rock when you approach them, they are not usually ‘fully clamped’.

A sharp whack from one side will usually dislodge them.

If you do not manage to dislodge them on the first whack, or they sense you coming, they will fully clamp down on the rock and you will have a hard time getting them off the rock, no matter how hard you try.

They are unbelievably strong.

You can follow up with a second strike very shortly after the first one, but if this fails, leave them alone or you risk damaging them, as they will now have fully clamped down.

Your best bet is to go and find another to work on.

When collecting them myself, I generally have one hand holding the dislodging rock and my other hand is placed on the opposite side of the limpet, ready to catch the dislodged morsel before it disappears into the brine below.

In a good area, it is not hard to quickly collect a bucketful. Remember, do not take more than you need.

If your camp is based nearby, you can always return if necessary, or visit another spot.

Can you eat a limpet raw?

The common limpet is edible and can be eaten raw, but you’re probably going to want to cook it.

Check that the limpet is still alive, especially if it has been a while since collection.

You will see it moving, so it’s not hard to check this. 

Are limpets tasty?

I’m going to get straight to the point here and say that limpets probably aren’t going to on your top 10 list of bushcraft cuisine.

The fact is that they are usually chewy, really chewy – no matter what you do to them!

The flavour isn’t bad, it’s like a chewy mussle, but the texture isn’t always great – well never great actually!

Some say not to cook them for too long, but they seem to be chewy whatever you do to them, so just expect that to be the case.

One way to combat the chewiness is to finely chop them and add them to other dishes so that they are more easily consumed.

This can be done after they are cooked and then added to a curry or stew etc.

They will certainly add a new dimension to the dish!

Caveats aside, they are definitely worth a try and can form a great addition to other foods if prepared in a certain way.

If you want to cook them on their own, try cooking them upside down, straight on the embers of your fire.

If you have the luxury, try adding some olive oil and some garlic to add some flavour and cook until the oil starts to bubble.

Remove from the shell, remove the black part if you wish and enjoy.

I can guarantee you will remember the experience.

What do limpets taste like?

Limpets have a taste of their own, but to give you a rough idea – they taste a bit like a chewier version of a mussle and are equally sweet in taste.

Can you fry limpets?

Yes. You can fry them in their shells, or for a more direct method, you can remove them from their shells, tenderise them with a meat hammer or similar and then fry.

You can fry them as is, or coat them in a flour mixture first, depending on your preference.

Safety whilst common limpet foraging

As with all foraging, there is a degree of risk involved.

Coastal foraging brings additional dangers.

Apart from the food safety side that is mentioned above, the actual collection part can be risky in itself.

You are usually stepping on or wading through rocky areas when foraging, contending with slippy, jagged surfaces and possibly waves.

Common sense goes a long way here.

Take great care with your foot placement and move slowly and deliberately.

A wading stick may prove useful.

Wear appropriate footwear, something that will protect your feet from the sharp rocks and provide you with some grip.

Avoid standing on rocks with a slimy green surface. The last thing you want is a fall in this environment.

Be aware of the tides. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the moment, only to realise that the tide is a lot higher than you thought, with your access back to dry land now cut off.

As with most things, preparation is key here.

Plan your route and enjoy the forage!

James

Bushcraft Hub

What’s your favourite way to eat limpets?

Let us know in the comments below.