Green Mussels vs. Black Mussels: What’s the Difference?

by Charlie
Published: Last Updated on
Difference Between Green Mussels and Black Mussels

Have you tried cooking a dish with green and black mussels? These seafoods taste slightly sweet and mushroom-like, making them excellent and versatile ingredients to add to your dish. Indeed, they blend well and will definitely enhance the flavor of your cooked meal. Is there a difference between these two colored ones?

Well, both green mussels and black mussels are affordable and readily available for purchase at your seafood shop. However, you’ll find some differences between them.

What’s the difference between green mussels and black mussels? The main difference between green and black mussels is the color. Green mussels have grey and greenish shells, while black mussels have dark and black shells.

What are Other Differences Between Green Mussels and Black Mussels?

Besides the most obvious difference in color, there are more differences between green mussels and black mussels. Firstly, they are different in size. Green mussels can grow two times bigger than black mussels in size. So, while black mussels can reach 2.5 inches, green mussels can get up to 6 inches in size.

Secondly, they differ in availability. Green and black mussels are mostly available anywhere. However, in the US, black mussels would be the most common type you see in markets. Green mussels come in second. Furthermore, black mussels are more abundant on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. This is because black mussels prefer cool waters.

As for green mussels, price and availability may differ depending on where you are. They are native to the coasts of South America, North America, and New Zealand. So elsewhere, green mussels may be a bit more pricey to buy.

Thirdly, black and green mussels differ according to texture. Black mussels are soft and tender to eat, while green mussels are a bit chewy when you eat them.

Do Green Mussels Taste Like Black Mussels?

Yes. Green mussels basically taste similar to black mussels. However, black mussels can be more sweet and intense in flavor compared to green mussels.

Are Black and Green Mussels Healthy to Eat?

Yes. Mussels are low in fat and are a good source of protein, which is important for healthy muscles, bones, nerves, cartilage, and skin.

Can You Substitute Green Mussels for Black Mussels in Recipes?

Yes. You can substitute green mussels for black mussels and the other way around.

Are Green and Black Mussels Safe to Eat?

Yes. Mussels are generally safe to eat unless there is a red tide phenomenon. This is when seawater becomes discolored during periodic algal blooms because of toxic substances. Remember to double-check the seafood shop’s source and confirm that there are no red tide occurrences at the time of your purchase.

How Do You Choose Green and Black Mussels?

Live mussels are best. The fresher the batch, the safer and better-tasting your dish will be. Shells should be shiny and moist. Seafood generally smell of the sea, but they should not stink as if they are rotten or spoiled.

Shells should be closed or close up when you tap them. Discard any open shells that don’t close.

If you buy cultured mussels, they won’t have beards. But wild mussels will have beards attached to them. Always remove them before cooking. The beard is known as byssus. It is what mussels used to attach to surfaces. It secretes some kind of adhesive to do that.

When Should You Use Green and Black Mussels?

Green and black mussels are good to have any time you crave seafood. They also make good substitutes for oysters and clams in recipes. However, while oyster and clams can be eaten raw, mussels are mostly cooked before consumption. That being said, some serve up raw mussels after placing them in acid marinade.

What Do You Serve with Green and Black Mussels?

For drinks, green or black mussels go well with white wine, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and the like. For ingredients or in dishes, you can cook them in butter, garlic, tomatoes, cheese, lemon, fresh and herbs. Use these to cook up an intensely flavorful and well-blended dish.

How Should You Prepare Green or Black Mussels?

No matter what variety you use, make sure to give mussels a good wash. Remove the beard (byssus) off the mussels. Do this by cutting them off or pulling them sharply.

How Do You Cook Green and Black Mussels?

Cheesy Baked Green and black mussels always make for one of the yummiest seafood dishes that you can serve as an appetizer or snack.

Here is how you do it:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F ( 190 degrees C).
  2. Cut off the top shell from the mussels.
  3. Place them in a baking tray. You may use aluminum or baking paper liners.
  4. Sauté minced garlic in some butter. Use pure butter, not spreadable butter. And go generous on the garlic if you like. Spoon this out into each mussel.
  5. Top the mussels with the grated cheese of your choice.
  6. Bake for about 15 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

A sure way to cook flavorful mussels is to steam them. Steamed green and black mussels are quick to prepare and cook. You can easily serve up a meal in less than 30 minutes.

Here is how you do it:

  1. Heat oil in a pot over medium heat.
  2. Add chopped onions, garlic, and ginger and sauté.
  3. Drop in some chopped tomatoes. When the tomatoes start releasing their juices, drop the mussels.
  4. Steam for about 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and fish sauce if you like.
  5. Turn off the heat and you can add some spinach if you like.

Enjoy steamed mussels on their own or pair them with steamed rice.

Can You Store Green and Black Mussels in the Freezer?

Yes, you can store mussels in the freezer for up to 2 days. However, it is always best and safe to consume mussels as soon as you purchase and cook them.

Final Thoughts

  • Green mussels have greenish and grey shells, while black mussels have dark and black shells.
  • Black mussels are soft and tender to eat, while green mussels are chewy.
  • Green mussels grow bigger (up to 6 inches) than black mussels (up to 2.5 inches).
  • Black mussels are more sweet and intense in flavor compared to green mussels.

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