The following post was kindly sent to us by Woodlore customer Emma Wennersten:
Dear all at Woodlore,
I watched recently on the Discovery channel one of your Wild Foods shows, where you and the good Professor gathered food from the ocean (including sea buckthorn and seldom have I seen such unappetising goo…).
Anyway, when you got to the razor clams I was surprised to see you use salt to get them out. My boyfriend has been taking me to gather razor clams for years here in the west of Ireland and I didn’t even know you could use salt. What he does (and I, but I suck at it to be quite frank) is take a sharpish knife with a long blade (a breadknife is good) and walk very slowly up to the breathing hole that indicates that there is a razor clam.
You then slide the knife, not point first but rather the whole sharp side in and downwards towards where the clam should be. Start a good 2-3 inches away from the hole at least. You will feel the edge catching the clam shell, then all you have to do is dig it up – your knife pressing against it stops it from digging its way to freedom.
I am only writing this because at the time of that program at least, Ray stated that he wasn’t sure how our ancestors would have caught the razor clams. He may well have found out by now but this is the way we do it!
You can see Ray’s method of gathering razor clams in the following video clip, taken from the BBC DVD Ray Mears Wild Food:
I recently learned how to catch them by slowly walking up to the wet low tide sand then stamping. The clams near the top shoot out a jet of water from their hole alerting you to their location. Then quickly insert index and middle finger a few CM from the hole at 45 degrees towards the spoot hole (hence the clams are called spooties in Scotland). If your fingers make contact with the side of a razor pin it to the side of its burrow the carefully dig it out with the other hand. Works much better than salt but feels more sporting.
i like the knife idea, i started catching them with salt but find i catch more with my fingers, just walk along hunched over on the low tide and push your fingers into anything that looks suspicious, when you get the right hole you can feel the ends of the two shells, stick your finger in or beside this and pin it to the side of it’s burrow. hold it there with one hand and dig it out with the other. sometimes they turn out to be giant sand clams, these don’t escape by digging but live much deeper, usually require kneeling on the sand and digging pretty deep. Also its a myth that you can’t dig faster than a razor clam can, if you really want it dig like crazy and pin it with a finger when you get to it.
Another way is to take a piece of 1/4inch round steel rod. Hammer one end until you have flattened it and then file that into a classic arrow head shape.
Slowly push it down the Razor Shell “burrow”, give it a quarter turn and slowly withdraw the rod complete with the animal
Great stuff! Amazing how much knowledge Ray has. Emma’s technique sounds like it takes alot of practise 🙂