Savannah Clam Company and a recipe for Steamed Littleneck Clams with White Wine Sauce
Harvesting clams is dependent on the tides, the seasons, and the weather. Some days are pretty rough and cold on the water, days like the one we had, make up for it. John will harvest two days a week and on average will return to shore with 6,000 – 8,000 clams each week. They are then sold primarily to local wholesale seafood businesses.
If you are not familiar with aquafarming, here is a brief description of the process to grow clams. John purchases clam eggs (seeds) that are 2-3mm in size. They are placed in what is called a grow-out bag. About 5,000 eggs go in each of these bags. The seed bags are set in the water until each seed is about the size of a penny. They are then planted in the sand under a protective mesh. When they reach a certain size, depending on their use, he will rake them up from the sand and place them in bags that are anchored to the sand bed. From here they will eventually be harvested as needed.
Clam seeds – photo from the internet
These mesh nets are the protective screens for the clam beds
Harvesting clams can be fun
The entire process to raise Littleneck Clams takes between 18 months to two years. During this time, John has to battle the loss of clams to predators like crabs, stingrays, sea turtles, and manta rays. While he takes precautions against this loss, some of these sea creatures are strong enough to crush conch shells, so his protective netting does not always keep them out.
It took several hours to harvest the clams
Lots and lots of clams
John put me to work. There’s no such thing as a free ride on this boat!
We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
Gwen Pratesi is a James Beard Foundation Award Finalist in Journalism and award-winning travel writer. She is the author and owner of PratesiLiving.com with her husband, coauthor of Southern Heat, and co-owner of On the Road Culinary Adventures, a culinary travel business. She is a contributor to the Travel section of U.S. News & World Report and freelances for other publications including The Points Guy, USA TODAY, Cruise Critic, Travel + Leisure, Garden & Gun, Marriott Bonvoy Traveler, Reader's Digest, Forbes Travel Guide, Smarter Travel, TripAdvisor, Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Magazine and World Travel Magazine. Her work has also been featured on MSN, Yahoo!, Business Insider, and SheKnows.
Gwen chronicles her love of international travel and experience as a professional home cook on PratesiLiving.com, where she shares the stories of some of the world's most sought-after destinations and cruise lines, highly regarded chefs, restaurateurs, farmers, wine and spirits producers and culinary artisans.
She and her husband traded in big city life in Atlanta for shorts and flip-flops on Fernandina Beach, Florida. They are enjoying the coastal lifestyle with their Tibetan Terrier, Rhythm.
I LOVE the first photo – American Gothic the clamming edition,, but much younger 😉 I adore little necks , and not only do I envy you for taking part in this experience, I envy you because you ate that dish of clams. The recipe sounds amazing, I think I need to clamming this summer 🙂
I was hoping that photo would get recognized properly. Taking that shot was an opportunity too hard to resist. 😉
We had an incredible experience clamming with John. There is nothing quite as local or as fresh as pulling clams out of the river and taking them home for dinner! Mr. B was in heaven.
These look so pretty! When I was a kid we’d dig clams on the flats before having a lobster & clambake on the beach in Maine. The kids loved it but I remember my mother saying how much work it was getting it all organized.
I bet you had a great time.
Clamming is sooo much fun! I’m glad you got to play around and give it a try 😀 Love the recipe as well.
Great story and very well-told. Loved the joke at the end. 🙂
I had a great opportunity going Clamming with John Pelli, please check out our video From Sea to Serving Check out this video on YouTube:
We’re big into clamming when we’re on the Cape. This post made me so happy… reminded me that there’s nothing like fresh clams in a simple white wine sauce.
You do look like you were a born clammer! I love this very well written piece and I love the pictures. I adore seafood and clams in particular and this was truly a fascinating read. I admire people who can quit that hum drum office life and turn to the earth or the sea for their livelihood. Admirable, indeed. I have seen oyster farms but never clam farms. Great write up, Gwen…and it looks like it was a fun day. And the recipe is great – almost identical to the way we prepare mussels. And clams when we buy them. Perfect.
What an opportunity! I want to go clamming now…and I certainly want to make this recipe. I love simple seafood meals like this. Thank you for sharing…and thank you for all the support. It means more to me than you know. Hugs and love from Austin.
A perfect day! good for john for follwing his love for the river, great piece and the love the white wine sauce!
I guess the good thing about not eating the clams you harvest is there are more to sell.But me I’d eat myself out of business. GREG
I loved reading about John. How interesting that he’s the only clammer in Savannah and wonderful to know that University of Georgia offers that scholarship. I got a kick out of reading tha his wife doesn’t like seafood and he’s not the biggest fan of clams…more for his brother;) A loaf of crispy bread and some nice white wine with your clams is perfection.
How interesting! I love to hear about folks taking a risk by following their passion and being successful at it and turning their career around. Fantastic write up and supporting images, Gwen and Mr. B. Love the image of the clam seeds! 🙂
Isn’t clamming so interesting? I was lucky enough to get an education on it when I was in the Chesapeak Bay area to visit with some guys from J&W Seafood (crabville.com) and learned so much! Plus all their seafood tastes great and is available to buy online!