How long is unopened clam good for?

Quick Answer

An unopened clam that is kept refrigerated can stay good for up to 7-10 days past its sell-by date. However, it’s best to cook and eat clams within 1-2 days of purchasing for peak freshness.

How Long Do Clams Last Refrigerated?

Fresh, live clams will last up to 7 days when properly stored in the refrigerator. Shucked clams that are sold in containers and kept sealed can last up to 10 days past the sell-by date if continuously refrigerated. Here are some general guidelines for clam storage times:

Type of Clam Refrigerator Storage Time
Live clams in shell 5-7 days
Fresh, shucked clams 3-5 days
Clams sold in sealed containers 7-10 days past sell-by date

The exact shelf life depends on several factors:

1. Proper Storage Temperature

Clams must be continuously stored at a cold refrigerator temperature of 40°F or below. Storage at inconsistent temperatures causes clams to deteriorate faster.

2. Method of Packaging

Clams stored in air-tight containers or bags will last longer than clams stored loosely in the shell. Exposing clams to air causes them to dry out.

3. Type of Clam

Some varieties of clams, like soft shell clams, have a shorter shelf life than hard shell clams. Soft shell clams only last 3-4 days refrigerated.

4. Quality and Freshness

The fresher the clams are when purchased and properly stored, the longer they will maintain quality and flavor. Older clams near the end of their shelf life don’t keep as long.

As a general rule, keep live clams chilled at all times during storage. Cook shucked clams within 2 days of purchase for best flavor and texture.

How to Tell if Refrigerated Clams are Bad

Although properly stored clams can stay fresh for up to 7-10 days past their sell-by date, it’s important to watch for signs of spoilage. Here are some ways to tell if refrigerated clams have gone bad:


– Live clams shells appear cracked, partially open or damaged
– Clam meat oozes milky liquid or has a slimy texture
– Clam meat has turned gray, beige or yellow


– Live clams have a rancid, fishy or ammonia-like odor
– Shucked clam meat smells sour, spoiled or pungent


– Odd textures like grittiness, mushiness or sliminess
– Metallic, bitter, sour or sharp flavor

How to Store Clams Properly

To get the longest shelf life out of fresh clams, proper storage methods are essential. Here are some tips for storing clams correctly:

Storage Tips for Clams Benefit
Keep live clams cold at 40°F or below Slows clam metabolism to preserve freshness
Place clams in a bowl covered with a damp cloth Helps retain moisture so they don’t dry out
Store shucked clam meat in an airtight container Blocks air exposure to prevent spoilage
Lay live clams flat on one side to avoid damaging shells Prevents cracking of shells that leads to spoilage
Keep different varieties of clams separate Prevents transfer of odors between varieties

Storing clams correctly helps maintain texture, flavor and freshness. Always keep live clams and opened clam meat refrigerated until ready to cook and eat.

How Long do Clams Last Frozen?

Properly frozen clams can last significantly longer than fresh clams stored in the refrigerator. Follow these freezer storage guidelines:

Live Clams in Shell

Live clams can be frozen in their shells for 2-3 months. Thoroughly clean shells and place in sealed freezer bags before freezing.

Shucked Clam Meat

Raw shucked clam meat keeps for 3-4 months in the freezer. Store in airtight containers with as little air inside as possible.

Cooked Clams

Cooked clams freeze well for 4-6 months. Package clams in freezer-safe containers with broth or sauce to prevent freezer burn.

For best texture, use frozen clams within the recommended time frames. Clams kept frozen longer than the maximum times tend to become rubbery and lose flavor.

How to Thaw Frozen Clams

Always thaw clams properly in the refrigerator rather than at room temperature. Here are some thawing guidelines:

– Place frozen clams in shell in a bowl in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours until thawed.
– Put frozen shucked clam meat in a bowl in the fridge for 3-5 hours to thaw.
– For faster thawing, place vacuum sealed clam packages in a bowl of cold water for 1-2 hours. Change water every 30 minutes so it stays cold.

Cook thawed clams immediately after thawing. Do not refreeze thawed clams.

How Long do Canned Clams Last?

Canned clams that remain properly sealed can last 2-5 years past the “best by” date printed on the can. Always inspect cans for damage, swelling, rust or leaking before opening. Discard immediately if any of these signs are present, as the clams could be contaminated.

For peak quality and flavor, it’s best to eat canned clams within:

– 1 year for soft shell clams
– 2 years for hard shell clams

Store unopened canned clams in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Once opened, transfer clams and liquid to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 4 days.

How to Tell if Canned Clams are Bad

Look for these signs that indicate canned clams have spoiled:

– Bulging can sides or leaking seal
– Visible pinholes in the metal
– Mold growth on underside of can lid
– Foul odor when can is opened
– Mushy texture or severely discolored meat
– Slimy liquid instead of broth

Discard canned clams immediately if you observe any of these signs of spoilage. Do not taste clams from compromised cans, as they can contain harmful bacteria.


How long do clams last in the fridge uncooked?

Fresh, live clams in the shell will keep for 5-7 days refrigerated. Shucked clams in containers stay fresh for 3-5 days. Always cook clams within 1-2 days of purchasing for best flavor and texture.

How long after sell by date can you eat clams?

Properly stored, sealed clam containers can last 7-10 days past the sell by date printed on the packaging. But for peak quality, cook within 1-2 days of purchasing.

Can you freeze clams in the shell?

Yes, live clams can be frozen in their shells for 2-3 months as long as the shells are thoroughly cleaned first. Place clams in a single layer in a freezer bag before freezing.

How long do cooked clams last in the fridge?

Cooked clams will keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator stored in an airtight container. Make sure clams reach an internal temperature of at least 145°F during cooking to prevent bacteria growth during storage.

How long can you keep canned clams after opening?

Keep opened canned clams refrigerated for up to 4 days. Transfer clams and liquid to an airtight container after opening to prevent spoilage. Use within this time for safety and best quality.


An unopened, properly stored clam can stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 7-10 days past its sell-by date. But for ideal flavor and texture, cook and eat fresh clams within 1-2 days of purchasing. Freezing clams extends shelf life significantly to 2-6 months depending on variety. Canned clams have a shelf life of up to 5 years if the can remains in good condition. Always inspect clams for signs of spoilage and discard any with an off smell, odd appearance or texture. Following proper storage methods is key to getting the maximum freshness and shelf life out of clams.

Leave a Comment