Can You Eat Barnacles? [& How To Prepare Them]

Barnacles are an exotic type of sea creature to add to your recipe repertoire. These little guys have a sweet and slightly salty taste that makes them perfect for savory and sweet dishes alike. But you will need to know how to prepare them properly before you can enjoy their unique flavor.

In order to prepare barnacles, follow these steps:

  1. Rinse the barnacles thoroughly.
  2. Boil water with kosher salt.
  3. Boil barnacles for 2-4 minutes until tender.
  4. Place barnacles in ice water for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Remove the shells and the head of the barnacle.

If you want to try barnacles for the first time, it's worth giving them a try. In this article, we will walk through each step of preparing barnacles so that you can enjoy their unique flavor in any dish. In addition, we will answer other frequently asked questions about barnacles, so read on!

Galician barnacles on a layer of ice and an ocher, Can You Eat Barnacles? [& How To Prepare Them]

How Do You Prepare And Eat Barnacles?

Barnacles are a type of shellfish that can be found in the ocean. They attach themselves to rocks or other hard surfaces and filter food from the water. Barnacles are considered a delicacy in many cultures and are often eaten raw, grilled, or boiled.

If you are eating barnacles for the first time, it is important to prepare them properly. Let's walk through the steps of preparing barnacles so that you can enjoy their unique flavor in any dish.

Goose barnacles known as perceves. Famous seafood from crustaceans family

1. Rinse The Barnacles

Like other shellfish and crustaceans, barnacles should be rinsed thoroughly before cooking. This will help to remove any dirt or sand that may be clinging to the barnacles.

The last thing you want is to bite into a mouthful of grit, so make sure to give the barnacles a good rinse before cooking.

2. Boil Water And Kosher Salt

Barnacles need a lot of salty water to boil properly. In a large pot, bring water to a boil, and add enough kosher salt so that the water tastes like the ocean.

If you don't have kosher salt, you can also use sea salt or regular table salt. Just make sure to add enough so that the water is nice and salty. You can also add a bay leaf or two to the water for extra flavor.

3. Boil Barnacles

Once the water is boiling, add the barnacles and cook for 2-4 minutes. You'll know they're done when the barnacles are tender and their shells have turned red.

In addition, if you cook the barnacles in their shell, the meat will start to separate. This is a good sign that they're done cooking.

If you aren't sure, then you can take one out and taste it. Just be careful not to burn yourself in the hot water.

4. Place Barnacles In Ice Water

ready to peel the barnacles which is already cooked and boiled with salt

After the barnacles are cooked, place them in a bowl of iced water for 5-10 minutes. This will help to stop the cooking process and keep the barnacles from getting rubbery.

It's important to use ice water and not just cold water from the tap. The colder the water, the better.

5. Remove Shells And Heads

Removing the head and shell of a neck barnacles

You can either remove the shells and heads before or after cooking. If you do it before cooking, the barnacles will cook faster.

However, it's usually easier to remove the shells and heads after cooking. This is because the barnacles will be easier to handle and the meat will be less likely to stick to the shells.

To remove the shells, use scissors to cut along the edge of the shell. You can then pry the shell open with your fingers and remove the barnacle meat.

Then the head of a barnacle looks similar to a rock. Use your scissors or a knife to remove the head from the barnacle meat.

Now, you can enjoy your barnacles in any dish. Add some lemon zest or garlic for extra flavor, or simply enjoy them as is.

What Do Barnacles Taste Like?

Barnacles have a unique taste that is often described as being somewhere between lobster and crab. They are slightly sweet with a hint of saltiness from the ocean.

However, it depends on the type of barnacle. For example, the gooseneck barnacle is said to be similar to clams or octopuses.

Rock barnacle is similar to scallops, crab, and shrimp. You can try different barnacles to find your favorite flavor.

When Are Barnacles In Season?

Barnacles are usually in season from late spring to early fall. This is when they are the plumpest and juicy. You can find them at a seafood market or order them online. In addition, you can go to the fishing docks and ask the fishermen if they have any barnacles that they are willing to sell.

If you want to collect your own barnacles, make sure to get a permit first. You can usually find these at the bait and tackle shop.

Typically, you can find them when the tide is low and they are exposed to the rocks. Just be careful not to get too close to the water, as the waves can be strong.

Fresh goose neck barnacles or galician barnacles

Can You Get Sick From Eating Barnacles?

Some species of barnacles can be toxic. That's why if you are harvesting your own barnacles, it's important to get a permit and know what you are doing.

In addition, make sure to cook the barnacles properly. This will help to kill any bacteria that may be present.

If you are still concerned about eating barnacles, then you can always ask a local seafood expert. They will help you distinguish the edible barnacles from the poisonous ones.

How Much Are Barnacles?

If you were hoping for a poor man's lobster dinner, then you may be disappointed. Barnacles are actually quite pricey depending on where you live. Barnacles can easily be $50 per pound or more. In some cases, they can be even pricier than lobster.

Of course, the price depends on the type of barnacle and where you live. For example, gooseneck barnacles are some of the most expensive. In addition, the cost can go up during holiday seasons such as Christmas and Easter.

If you want to save money, then you can try to find them in season or harvest your own.

Why Are Barnacles So Expensive?

As mentioned, barnacles are not the poor man's lobster; they can be quite expensive.

One of the main reasons why barnacles are so expensive is because they are difficult to harvest. The process is very time-consuming and laborious. In addition, it can be dangerous for the harvesters, as they have to climb rocks and get close to the water.

Also, there is a limited supply of barnacles. They are not as common as other seafood such as shrimp or crab. This makes them a bit rarer and, therefore, more expensive.

A very tasty seafood for eating

How Long Do Barnacles Last In The Fridge?

Fresh barnacles can last up to 2-4 days in the fridge. Place a damp cloth over them or store them in a container with some seawater. Cooked barnacles can last up to 3-4 days in the fridge. Make sure to store them in an airtight container.

However, eating them as soon as possible is always best. This is when they will be the freshest and tastiest.

Can You Freeze Barnacles?

While you can freeze fresh barnacles for up to 6 months, it's not recommended. This is because they can become rubbery and lose their flavor.

If you do decide to freeze them, make sure to thaw them properly before cooking. The best way to do this is to place them in the fridge overnight.

Since these are expensive seafood, it's best to just eat them fresh and buy them in small quantities that you can consume within a few days.

Are Barnacles Good For You?

Barnacles are actually quite nutritious and are a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals.

They are also low in calories and fat. This makes them a great choice for those on a diet or looking for healthy seafood options.

In addition, barnacles can help to improve your cardiovascular health. This is because they contain omega-3 fatty acids which are known to reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure.

So, not only are barnacles delicious, but they are also good for you. Give them a try the next time you are looking for something new to eat.

Final Thoughts

Galician barnacles on a layer of ice and an ocher

While they are more expensive, barnacles are a delicious and nutritious seafood option. Just make sure to cook them properly and eat them fresh for the best flavor. You might be surprised at how much you enjoy them.

Made it to the end? Here are other articles you might find helpful:

Can You Eat A Black Drum Fish? [Yes! Here’s How To Prepare It!]

Can You Eat Atlantic Sand Crab? [Yes! Here’s How To Prepare It!]

Can You Eat A Barracuda? [Yes! Important Tips On Preparing It Safely!]

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