Fresh PEI Mussels Harvested as a Year-Round Treat

Did you know that when it comes to seafood, freshness is consistently rated as one of the most important qualities customers are looking for? That’s just one reason mussels are growing in popularity across the U.S.

When it comes to freshness, Prince Edward Island (PEI) mussels from Canada are hard to beat. In fact, these tasty and nutritious shellfish are sold live at the store – you literally can’t get them any fresher.

You’re now able to buy them fresh at the grocery store all year round. Gone are the days of so-called mussel season, since farmed mussels are harvested throughout the year.

The journey that a PEI mussel makes from farm to seafood counter is a remarkable one. Mussels grow naturally in the nutrient-rich waters of little Prince Edward Island. To harvest them in the spring until early winter, farmers simply lift the mussels out of the water by pulling up the lines suspended in the ocean. But in the winter, it’s a job for the hardiest men and women.

Bundled up to protect themselves from the harsh ocean winds, they use GPS devices and brightly colored poles in the ice to mark the mussel farm underneath. Crew members must work quickly to cut holes in the ice, which can be up to four feet deep, so that a diver can descend into the frigid waters and connect the mussel ropes to a winch.

The crew must haul up the mussels and transfer them to insulated containers to take to the plant, where they will be cleaned, sized, inspected and loaded into bags for shipping.

It’s well worth the effort. You can feel good about serving your family fresh, sustainable seafood. Mussels are ideal for people who care about eating high-quality, unprocessed foods: they are an all-natural source of lean protein, vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids. They are also low in saturated fats, cholesterol and calories, and gluten-free. To learn more about PEI mussels, visit discovermussels.com.

MUSSELS WITH SHAVED FENNEL & SAFFRON

5 pounds fresh PEI mussels
1 fennel bulb, diced
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 pinch saffron
1 bay leaf
sea salt flakes and cracked pepper
1 cup white wine
1 lemon, zest and juice
crusty bread

Rinse fresh PEI mussels in a colander, tap any mussels that remain open. Discard any that remain open. Set aside. Trim fennel stalks and save fronds for garnish. Finely slice fennel into thin strands.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and olive oil in a large pan. Add fennel, onion and garlic and sauté over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until soft. Stir in saffron, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Turn up the heat to medium-high. Add wine and remaining butter; stir adding mussels. Cover and leave to steam for 5 minutes or until mussels have opened.

Discard any mussels that do not open. Toss everything together with lemon zest and juice. Top with fennel fronds. Serve with crusty bread.

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