Carril  Clams: Main characteristics of the most popular clam

Surely you have already tasted a delicious Carril  Clams  dish ; but how do you know if they were really those, and not some slugs clams , or any other?

If you are one of those  people who love seafood and molluscs, and above all, if you, like anyone else like the best of the best;  we suggest to stay with us and learn to recognize this delicious delicacy, which is worth paying its cost

Characteristics of the Carril Clams

Clam is the name of a big number of bivalves, that live both in the sea, as in fresh water. They  have a flattened body, and two shells attached to their  backs;  that have the function of protecting their body by covering them.

For this reason they are called bivalves, because this means that they have two valves joined together; and they are mollusks, because their name comes from the Latin, molluscus, which means soft. Then, the Carril  clam, is a soft body; which is covered by two valves that are joined together, and have symmetrical shape.

carril´s clams: bivalvesMoreover,  the shells of the clams are hard and calcareous; and are usually very similar to each other. The  Carril  Clams, are characterized  by the radial lines that  can be observed  on their shells, which makes of them very easy to be  distinguished from others species of clams.

In certain sectors of the shell, these lines are usually very pronounced, and when they cross each other; they form grids that no other clams have.

For example, the surface of the slug clam , is much smoother; and the radial lines are difficult to distinguish.

In general, the shells or valves of  the  clams are oval;  even they could have a rectangular shape, since they usually form two parallel lines between both pieces . However, the Carril´s Clam is more rounded, which  makes it different  from others clams.

The rounded shells of the Carril  Clams,  are stuck together by a ligament composed of an elastic protein. They also have a sort of teeth and channels, both in the upper shell and in the lower one; which  prevent them from moving or opening,  leaving the body of the clam exposed. Although, it doesn´t look like it, the shell of the Carril  Clams is thin, and has, like all the other clams; a dorsal protuberance that receives the name of umbo. As we mentioned before, it is convex and has a number of fine striae , that besides being easy to visualize,  they are also easily felt when touched.

In general, clams can have different colors, ranging from dark gray, through brown spots, and reaching the lighter gray. However, Carril  Clam  has a creamy coloration, that ranges  between yellowish and brown; with certain darker marks; which is another distinctive characteristic of these mollusks .

All these mollusks have a scarcely developed, head and sensory organs. However, Carril´s Clam despite their lack of eyes or brain; have a split syphon (bifid siphon)  unlike the rest of these mollusks . They also have gills,  which they use to perform gaseous exchange, and to filter their food.

The organs of the Carril  Clams are surrounded by blood and water, which provide them all the nutrients of the oxygen.

 Dimensions of the Carrilcarril clams : close up Clams

The dimensions of the Carril  Clams  are variable. There are specimens that measure between nine and eleven millimeters, while others can measure between fifteen and eighteen millimeters. They weigh between twenty and forty grams. Their bodies are composed of visceral mass, a reproductive system, a digestive system, an excretory system, the heart, the foot, and the head.

The siphon, the oral apparatus, the teeth, and the foot they use to move, are located on the head of the clam. They also have a mantle  produced by their shells; where  the breathing of this mollusk  takes place.

Where Do Carril  Clams Come From ?

These clams,  which are also known as thin clams, is the queen of all species. She is the one that lasts longer out of the water, and for this reason, to stay for much longer, is that they acquire big economic value.

These clams owe their name, to the port location of Carril Ría de Arousa, in Cataluña, Spain ; where they come from. This town has an area of thirty-three square kilometers, and  shelters an endless number of inlets and beaches, where the deeply rooted tradition of Galicia stands out; the cultivation of the best clams in the world.

In this sector, the farms of clam and cockle crops occupy almost one million square meters, this mollusk extends to Vilagarcía de Arousa.

Since the year 1990, the  association of growers of the cultivation park of Carril was created; which is the first company of this town, dedicated to the cultivation of clams. More than six hundred and fifty families live from the cultivation of this mollusk and its collection,. This practice started  in  the middle age, and has more than five hundred years of history; so, how can it not be so ingrained in its people?

For more than twenty-three years  tribute has been paid to the Carril´s Clams, since this is a cultivation that is done with love, by the same people of the town. This clam is a fantastic food, which makes you close your eyes when you taste it for the first time; and if you have the chance of enjoying it in its  own farming town;  it will worth paying the cost, it is priceless.

Cultivation Of Carril Clams.

The Carril´s Clams are cultivated in parks where the artisanal aquaculture is carried out in a semi-crop regime. In this city of Spain, there are one thousand two hundred and eighty-three cultivation plots;  occupying an area of ​​almost one million square meters.

This cultivation is carried out both on foot and in a boat, but in the specific case of the Carril Clams, it is done in an artisanal way, removing the sand from the bottom with special rakes to look for the desired bivalve.

As we mentioned before, this tradition has more than five hundred years of history; and it is an arduous job that persists in time;  since it has been taught and transferred from generation to generation. The success of these clams is based, on the conditions that occur in that location, and in the love and professionalism with which it is done by Carril´s people.  .

There are six hundred and fifty families, who live off the clam cultivation, Also, twenty-five percent corresponds to a family aid, while ten percent do it on their own.

The growers represent one of the first economic activities of Vilagarcía de Arousa, since the production of clams per park, exceeds fifteen thousand euros.

In the last ten years , the production of the parks has been around the three thousand two hundred tons; representing  sixteen million euros of annual average.  These statistics  represents a fabulous increase in the sale of this mollusk, since it has left behind the sale of other clams, like slugs, and Japanese clams.

To cultivate these clams, the bottom of the sea must be taken care of; eliminating algae from the territory, and controlling the natural predators of this mollusk.

This process begins with the plowing of the sandy bottom, to propitiate the oxygenation of the substrate; and the sowing of young clams  in the different depths of the natural banks that have a good water current. After they have grown to commercial size, the clams are collected with hoes or traditional rakes; when the bank is not yet fully discovered

The Clams represent the essence of Carril, they are  its main source of incomes,  not only because of the sale of these mollusks; but for what they mean in terms of tourism and  popularity to this locality.

The cultivation and sale of clams, which is recognized throughout the world for their unique flavor, has made of Carril and Vilagarcía de Arousa;  very popular nowadays.

Today, the parks are still a productive and competitive structure, since their production is much higher than that of other species of clams, as well as their level of importation, since this clam is very well priced all over the world.

Brief review of the Growers

This occupation of the Galicians, begun many years ago, but it was in 1961 when the regularization of the parks was   legalized. The creation of  the first West-Galicia rail line, was a key factor, for trading Carril´s Clams. The inhabitants of Santiago de Compostela took advantage of the delights of this product,  to market it in the 19th century; while the growers were in charge of transmitting this noble tradition from generation to generation. So today, after so many years,  this wonderful clam continues being produced; reaching its top in popularity.

Ameixa Party

This is an event that the inhabitants of Vilagarcía have been doing, for more than twenty years, to thank and commemorate the production of Carril Clams. This celebration has been conceived , in order to increase tourism in this area,  as well as to make new growers aware, of the work that takes to grow this clam.

Watch this video to learn more about this traditional process

Properties Of Carril Clams

These famous clams, are the shellfish with the lowest level of fat in its composition. This food has only forty-seven percent of calories, for each edible portion of one hundred grams; which makes of them the preferred by those who are on a diet, because it also has a high content of vitamins and minerals.

Following we list, the main vitamins contained in clams :

Niacin or Vitamin B3

Niacin, better known as vitamin B3, regulates the formation of red blood cells, and allows you to take advantage of all the nutrients in the body. It also stimulates the production of sex hormones. When consuming this food, high cholesterol is regulated, since vitamin B3 reduces LDL levels, and increases HDL cholesterol.

For people suffering of diabetes, the consumption of clams, is an excellent palliative, because it delays the dependence of insulin. In the same way,  it can be very helpful for patients with arthritis, since it has the property of increasing joint mobility, so that the consumption of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories can be reduced.

Moreover, due to their  content of vitamin B3; their regular consumption, reduces considerably the chances of suffering Alzheimer’s, as well as other degenerative diseases.

Vitamin A

This is one of the vitamins present in clams, which not only allows us to maintain our defenses active, but also is a powerful regenerator of our skin, and bone system. Thus, when consuming clams periodically,  the number of our epidermal cells increases, keeping our skin always moisturized and elastic.

A diet that includes the consumption of  Carril Clams, prevents the skin of horrible acne that attacks young people, and prevents skin diseases such as psoriasis, eczema, and herpes.

And the best thing about consuming carril clams,  is that they delay the appearance of fearsome lines of expression in adults; since  vitamin A is a natural antioxidant

Clams also help prevent eye diseases, such as glaucoma, cataracts, and conjunctivitis. They have the property of  strengthening  teeth, nails and hair, in people who consume them regularly.

Another benefit of these mollusks, is related to their property to prevent cancer of breast , lung, mouth and stomach. For this reason, they are essential for people who have to undergo chemotherapy sessions.

In the same way, carril´s  clams have a number of minerals among its cproperties, that are very beneficial for the health of the people who consume them.


This mineral in  conjunction with vitamin B3,  stimulates the production of red blood cells, and muscle proteins. This is why doctors recommend its consumption, in people who are exposed to big energy losses , because it reduces fatigue and increases the power of our body.

If you are suffering a common cold, it is advisable to eat a portion of clams, since this food has the ability to strengthen the immune and respiratory systems.


This  mineral is essential in our basic diet, since it collaborates with the vitality and youth of our body at any age .

The regular consumption of clams in our basic diet, helps to maintain our mental balance; stimulating the proper functioning of the brain , and the cardiovascular system.

It is an excellent food supplement to prevent coronary diseases, and to stimulate the proper functioning of the kidneys; preventing also cramps and muscle fatigue, typical of people who usually exercise.

The magnesium also combats dizziness, and fatigue, and prevents the problems of constipation, colitis, and annoying hemorrhoids. This is a food that should not be lacking among men over forty years, since it has been shown that it helps prevent prostate cancer.


This mineral has excellent properties, for normalizing the balance of water in the human body. Potassium is also related with the contraction, relaxation, and maintenance of  muscles. We all know that we  must consume water daily, and potassium regulates its content in the cells.

Potassium is responsible for distributing water throughout our body, so its consumption is essential for a good health.

Finally but not less important , we should mention that potassium also has excellent for the proper functioning  of the nervous system, muscles and heart.


This mineral furthers the proper functioning of the kidneys, brain, and heart; so it is highly recommended  to include clams in our basic diet.  The regular consumption of Carril  clams ,  prevents cavities and other dental diseases; as well as  rickets, bone weakness and excessive weight loss.


In the same way than potassium, the calcium present in the clams helps us maintain good dental, bone and coronary health. That is why doctors recommend the daily consumption of carril´s clams,  in people suffering of osteoporosis, and osteopenia, since clams are an excellent restorative of bones.

Many researchers assert, that the consumption of carril´s clams can help to control the arterial hypertension, to prevent the cancer of breast, in the women who are in the age of the menopause, and other types of cancer, including the one of prostate.

These mollusks  also help alleviate , the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, which some women suffer.

Clams also have excellent properties for losing weight; not only because of its minimal fat content, but also because of the energy it provides to the body when it is exercised.

There are many properties offered by this food, which is well worth paying the cost that is necessary, in order to take advantage of the benefits  it entails for human health.

Now, if you want to enjoy a delicious dish of these clams, you should learn  first how to cook them

Carril Clams  Detractors

All foods have followers as well as detractors; and despite all the properties previously listed about these  wonderful mollusk, they have their own critics.

According to some researchers, the  Carril´s clams can  represents a risk, since they can cause severe poisonings, because they contain pathogenic germs enough harmful for the health of the people.

In addition, according to the detractors , the preparation of clams requires very few minutes; which allows these germs survive this cooking. However, in  large groups of diners, only some of them may become ill; because each clam, like each diner, is an individual. So, this one can be contaminated, and the others clams not. This means that the diner eating more clams, are more likely to be poisoned.

The  intoxication can be produced, by germs  accumulated in the clam´s  shells; and they are classified in paralytic intoxication, neurotoxic intoxication, and amnestic poisoning.


These symptoms can appear from two hours, until twelve hours after the ingestion of the clams, and can include the following discomforts:

    • Abdominal cramps
    • Intense and watery diarrhea
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Coloration in different parts of the body

Some people may also feel the sensation of having loose teeth, and in the most acute cases; radically confuse temperatures, so a burning match can produce intense cold.

Moreover,   they can also develop a very strong headache, metallic taste in the mouth, and their blood pressure and heart rate may lower

In  extremely severe cases, people may suffocate, redden the skin of the body and face; and may present serious respiratory problems; so they should go immediately to the nearest doctor.


How to prevent Carril Clams Poisoning

The first thing you should keep in mind, is  if there is any history of allergies to shellfish, mollusks or fish in your family. When one of the members of the family suffers from allergies; it is very likely that another one also has it.

If it is the first time you are going to consume this food, do it in a moderate way; to prevent any undesired situation. If you are not allergic, you should also keep in mind;  that these foods may be in poor condition, not be fresh by the time you bought them, or simply have been contaminated with others.

For this reason,  it is necessary that you wash your food, utensils and hands very well;  to prepare this and any food, and in the case of the carril  clams, at the time of purchasing them, verify that their shells are closed, or at least that they  close to the minimum contact with them. When cooking, we should place them in boiled water, and they should open immediately. If after a few minutes some of the clams have not done so, these clams should be discarded immediately;  because they  are in poor condition.

If when you are eating the clams you have the sensation of having a very large tongue, or irritation in any part of the body in an unusual way; stop eating this food, and go to the nearest health care center.

Don´t drink any type of alcoholic beverages, because this can aggravate the situation  nor should you self-medicate, before you get to the doctor.

Finally, we leave this video  about how to clean clams before cooking them, in order to prevent any intoxication…


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