New Zealand Greenshell Mussels

On a tour of the Marlborough Sounds where the green-lipped mussels grow, we ate them right off the line. Source: Micki Seibel, February 2007

On a tour of the Marlborough Sounds where the green-lipped mussels grow, we ate them right off the line. Source: Micki Seibel, February 2007

“The real way to eat mussels is with your fingers straight from the shell…”

I should add that they should be harvested fresh from the water by your boat. That’s the Greenshell™ Mussel Cruise that I took several years ago. Departing from Havelock in the Marlborough Sounds at the northern tip of New Zealand’s south island, I cruised the sounds to the mussel farms.

Green-lipped mussels (aka Greenshell mussels) are native to New Zealand, and New Zealand is the only place on earth where they grow. Approximately 2,153 hectares of marine farms in the Marlborough area produce 50,000 greenweight tonnes of mussles (source: New Zealand Mussel Industry Council).

There are two reasons why I recommend them as the best mussel for cooking. First, is their exceptional size and meatiness. The mussels are typically harvested when they are around 90 millimeter in length, and a typical mussel is 55% meat by weight (compared to 25% for a typical blue mussel). In other words, they’re big and they’re meaty. Second, they are sustainably raised. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guide rates them as a Best Choice because they are raised in an environmentally responsible way, and New Zealand has stringent environmental regulations.

Having seen the waters of the Marlborough Sound in New Zealand and toured one of the mussel farms, these beauties definitely come from unpolluted water. How refreshing.

You can read more about them yourself: Greenshell Mussels.