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"Marathon- the Heart of the Florida Keys"

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CLEANING CONCH
by Mel Neal

WEBMASTER's NOTE: Dec 2008: Please note that it has been illegal to harvest Conch in the Florida Keys for quite some time. Recently the Bahamian government made conch harvesting off-limits for non Bahamians. You'll have to barter with a local for fresh conch.

This article has been reproduced with permission by the author. It was originally published in August 2000 in the "Cruising Coast and Islands" newsletter, Tom Neale editor. We highly recommend this newsletter for Cruisers on the East Coast & Bahamas. 
More information is at the bottom of this page.

Webmaster's Note - see related pages on CONCH RECIPES

I've previously given recipes for Conch Salad and Conch Fritters. Many have asked how to clean conch.

Equipment Needed: Masonry (or claw) hammer, fillet knife, paring knife, table knife.

  1. Using masonry hammer, make hole in the shell of conch, in space between 3rd & 4th spiral from the center, on the side about two or three points up from the flare.

  2. Insert paring knife into hole. If you feel hard muscle you are in the right place. Cut it through. If you feel soft stuff, go back to step 1 and try again.

  3. Holding onto claw (foot), pull whole conch out of shell. Photo 1.

  4. Locate head (black and yellow spotted part, with eye stalks) and cut off with fillet knife. Photo 2.

  5. Holding by claw, use fillet knife to cut off mantle (orange spotted "skirt" part) and attached long stringy slimy part. Bahamians often leave the mantle on for color in conch salad. It tastes pretty good. Rinse in seawater as needed. Conch is slimy. Photo 3.

  6. Locate intestine (dark vein on bottom of white muscle now exposed) and cut it out with fillet knife. Photo 4.

  7. Slice through dark tough skin on white muscle from bottom to claw with fillet knife.

  8. Using whatever method works for you, remove all of the skin to expose edible white muscle. It may be skinned by putting dull table knife under it to pry off; some people pull it off with their teeth; others put thumbs under it and pull it with hands; others peel it with a fillet knife. Rinse. Photo 5.

  9. The claw, a good hand hold, may be cut off later.

  10. If recipe calls for tenderized conch, cut off foot (claw) and slice through muscle horizontally once or twice. Pound with meat tenderizing mallet till flat, thin, and lacey. Not necessary for salad or fritters.

  11. Refrigerate or use immediately in your favorite recipe.

"Cruising Coast and Islands'" web site is www.tomneale.com ,  PO Box 161, Gwynn, Virginia 23066.  
                Subscriptions for this bi-monthly newsletter are $29.95 ($24.95 as a special introductory price) for the 6 issues. (Aug 2000)
                                            Tel: 804-725-0381 Toll Free: 877-277-4268, E-mail: tomneale@juno.com 
"Cruising Coast and Islands'" is about achievable cruising under sail and power along the East Coast and the Islands. This isn't about crossing oceans, sailing around the Horn, or being macho. It is about a dream that YOU can live, safely and comfortably. What you read here won't be filtered through land locked offices. It comes to you from a boat as it cruises. Mel and I have lived aboard Chez Nous over 20 years, cruising around 5000 miles per year. We both began cruising over 45 years ago. We and the others who write here will tell it like it is so that you can have fun doing it -- now or later.   Tom Neale

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Boot Key Harbor website created and maintained by Capt. Gregory T. Absten, Marathon.  - A Boater's Guide to the Florida Keys & Cuba
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