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Can You Cook Mussels That Have Barnacles On Them?

Barnacles are considered a nuisance by many people, but they are edible. Does this mean that you can cook mussels with barnacles on them? Keep reading to find out.

By Cookist

Before answering the question, it is important to understand what they are. Mussels are shellfish that are commonly consumed, steamed, or boiled. They are bivalve molluscs that exist alongside oysters and cockles in the bivalve family. Bivalves like them have two smooth, identical halves surrounded by an enclosed shell.

On the other hand, barnacles are crustaceans that attach themselves to ships or rocks. They also attach themselves to mussels, which begs the question, can you cook mussels with barnacles on them?

Can you cook mussels with barnacles on them?


Yes, you can. While many may consider barnacles a nuisance, they are edible.

However, the relationship between them and mussels may vary depending on the species of mussels they subsist on. Blue mussels that live in barnacles may have a higher mortality rate in locations that make it difficult for the barnacle to survive such as those that have stronger currents and waves.

In addition to producing more heat shock proteins (Hsps), which support repairing and protecting cells damaged by stress, stressed mussels also produce more stress-related proteins.

As a result, they are perfect for mussels because they provide them with an effective camouflage suit and extra protection from predators.

Mussels never rot if they are not kept out of the cook's reach. In fact if the mussel is not alive when it is about to be cooked, you might wanna discard it. To find out if it still lives, check to see if the shell closes up after you tap it.

Cooking will take 5 to 7 minutes, depending on how much heat is being used, the amount of liquid used, and the number of mussels.

Do Barnacles Affect Mussels They Live On?


No, they don’t. Barnacles on living mussels grow much faster than those on empty shells, according to scientific research. It has also been determined that they do not impede the growth of mussels thanks to a commensalism study that was carried out to examine the two-species relationship. They may look funky but it is perfectly safe to eat mussels that have barnacles on them.


If you find barnacles on mussels, you can get rid of them by scrubbing the mussels with a brush under running water. You may also need to use a knife to scrape them off. Once removed, the mussels are safe to eat but even if you choose to leave them, the mussels will still be safe for consumption.

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