Maine Clams 101: Soft vs. Hard Shell & 3 Varieties of Maine Clams - Pine Tree Seafood

Maine Clams 101: Soft vs. Hard Shell & 3 Varieties of Maine Clams

Maine Clams 101: Soft vs. Hard Shell & 3 Varieties of Maine Clams

Maine Clams 101: Soft vs. Hard Shell & 3 Varieties of Maine Clams

Do you love clams as much as we do? You may love eating them, but don’t know much about them. We’re here to set that straight.


Clams are a type of shellfish found in both the ocean and freshwater areas. Maine clams can be harvested year-round, but the peak season is the summer. Clam harvesters find these mollusks in the sand and mud along the coast of Maine. 

Clams are not only a popular item on seafood menus, but they can also be cooked in many different ways. There are many kinds of clams, and each one has its own unique flavor. 

Clams are a great source of protein and contain high levels of iron and magnesium. They are also low in fat and calories.

Maine clams can be separated into two types: hard and soft shells. In this blog post, we’ll explore the different types of claims found in Maine. So if you’re a fan of clams or looking to add some new seafood dishes to your menu, read on!


Soft Shell Clams

As the name suggests, these clams have a soft shell that isn’t as thick or strong as the shells of other types of clams. (Steamer clams have a long neck (also known as a siphon) that prevents them from closing their shells tight.) 

Soft shell (steamer) clams are usually steamed, but they can also be shucked and then deep-fried. These clams are a popular item on our menu. 

Hard Shell Clams

Maine hard-shell clams are a type of hard shell clam that’s incredibly versatile. 

These clams are typically sold according to size, and the size of the clam also determines the way it’s used. 

Hard shell clams are harvested inshore by hand tools, such as rakes, and offshore using large equipment called a dredge is used to gather ocean hard shell clams. 


1. Cherrystones

Cherrystone clams are a type of hard shelled clam named after Cherrystone Creek. These clams average three to five per pound and can be eaten in many different ways, including being a great option for stuffing

This type of clam is also known for its sweet and tender meat. The cherrystone clam is a popular choice for both recreational and commercial fishers; these clams can be found in sandy or muddy bottoms from Maine to Florida. If you’re looking for a delicious and versatile clam, the cherrystone is an excellent option.

2. Little Neck

Little Neck clams are native to the Maine coast and named after Little Neck Bay. Their flavor is sweet and tender, making them an excellent choice to be served on the half-shell (raw) with a squeeze of lemon juice. 

While they may be more expensive than other types of clams, Little Neck clams are definitely worth the splurge!

3. Quahog

Quahogs are the largest clams and their meat is tough, but flavorful, making them ideal for use in fritters, chowders, and clam cakes. 

Quahogs are native to the East Coast of North America and can be found in both fresh and saltwater habitats. Harvested throughout the year, these mollusks are very versatile in how they can be eaten, but they are more commonly used in cooked dishes due to the tougher flesh. In fact, Quahogs are often chopped before being added to these dishes.

If you’re looking for a seafood dish that’s sure to please, give clams a try. Depending on the season, we have several different types of clams available, each one has its unique flavor. Stop in today and see all the different ways we prepare clams – you won’t be disappointed!