This is how the Galician mussel is raised. We tell you from a pan


When I was very little I lived for two years in Vigo and I remember that from the windows of my house I could see the beautiful estuary full of mussel rafts. At that time the activity of mussel farming was in its infancy and over the years it has become a very important activity in the Galician economy, offering a product of recognized quality.

Many years later I have been lucky enough to visit a pan within the blogtrip to Vigo at the invitation of ANFACO Cecopesca and I have been able to know many details that I did not know about the breeding of this delicious mollusk. Will you accompany me on the visit?

Origins of mussel farming in Galicia

The history of mussel cultivation dates back to 1946, when the first ten rafts were anchored in the vicinity of the Villagarcía de Arosa harbor breakwater. 400 ropes of 5 meters in length hung from each raft. The production obtained was destined for the Barcelona market for sale fresh and for the Pompeans canning factory.

In 1949 the anchorages began in the Vigo estuary and in 1954 there were already rafts in Cambados, El Grove, Bueu, Redondela and Puebla del Caramiñal. In 1961 a regulation for the exploitation of consumer nurseries was enacted for the first time. Today there are about 3,300 rafts in the Galician estuaries, reaching a production between 270,000 and 300,000 tons and directly employing about 10,000 people.

Obtaining the seed and stringing

The seed can be collected in the natural environment by pulling it from the rocks where it is fixed after the larval process. It is usually collected by the producers or shellfish workers who make agreements with the brotherhoods. It can also be obtained from collector ropes that are hung from the trays during the larvae fixation periods.

Stringing is done by attaching a certain amount of seeds around a rope and fixing it with a cotton net until they adhere by means of the viso. Between 10 and 15 kilos of seed are placed in the stringing for each string.

The unfolding

Between 4 or 6 months after stringing, it is necessary to unfold, since the strings have multiplied their weight by ten. For this, the ropes are hoisted with the help of the ship's crane and with the help of a large metal basket to avoid falls and losses. The mussels are passed through the sheller and the grill table where a first selection of the mussel is made.

From the tables, the mussels pass to the stringing hoppers, putting between 40 or 50 kilos of mussels of about 4 or 5 cm. for each split rope. After this operation, the second stage of fattening begins, which will last between 8 and 14 months depending on the location of the pan until reaching the commercialization sizes of 7 to 10 cm.

The harvested

The harvest is harvested when there is a load of about 20 kg of mussels per meter of rope and the sizes of the animal are adequate.To remove the ropes, a worker has to hook the rope of the crane to one of the ropes of the pan. The rope is lifted and collected in the basket and passes to the sheller and sorting grates.

The mussels are packed in 15 kg bags for marketing. If they are going to be destined for export, these bags are reintroduced into the sea so that the mussel forms pineapple again and is strengthened to be able to withstand the trip in the best conditions.

Mussel production is divided into three main sales channels: treatment plants, canning factories and cookers, from the latter two areas of sale are covered: frozen mussels and sale to canning factories.

The mussel rafts of Galicia constitute a true smallholding, since most of the owners have a single raft, at most two. This activity generates more than 7,000 direct jobs and 15,000 indirect jobs and its impact on the economy and way of life of the Galician coastal regions is unquestionable.

Recipes with mussels Direct to the Palate

And if, after knowing how the Galician mussel is raised, you want to prepare them, here is a small selection of the many recipes that En Directo al Paladar have published with this tasty mollusk.

  • Mussels in spicy tomato sauce recipe
  • Mussels with cream and celery.
  • Mussels Provencal
  • Rice with mussels
  • Mussels in cider vinegar pickle
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