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How to clean scallops: Scallop cleaning 101

How To Clean Florida Bay Scallops

Our Complete Guide For Cleaning Florida Bay Scallops Fast, Fun, And Effectively

You have successfully taken the family out on the water and caught your limit in scallops. Now the real fun begins! Cleaning bay scallops can be a headache for some anglers, but knowing how to do it properly will save you time and help preserve the meat. This is a complete guide on how to clean bay scallops.
Scallops In Bucket
Scallops Are Collected In A 5 Gallon Bucket (Photo Credit: Good Hunt Blogs)

While on the boat I like to keep my caught scallops alive as long as possible. I will bring an aeration machine to keep the oxygen levels in the 5-gallon bucket high. This will keep your scallops alive and happy. One thing you have to remember is to keep them in the shade. Direct sunlight will warm the water and kill them. This could allow for the scallop meat to spoil before you have ever cleaned them. If you do not want to keep them alive and in the water then make sure you have a cooler big enough to fit them. The Big Frig Denali 45ct cooler is plenty big to fit a 5-gallon bucket of scallops and enough ice to pack them tightly.
Pack Scallops On Ice
Pack You Scallops On Ice To Open Them Up (Photo Credit: Florida Sportsman)

If you take our advice and leave them alive while out on the boat scalloping or fishing, put them on ice when you get back to the dock. Allow for them to sit on ice for at least an hour before you even think about cleaning them. As they begin to die while on the ice, they will open their shells partially that will allow for easy cleaning. There are a few things you will need to make your life easier while cleaning them. A good butter knife or scallop knife, trash bags and Ziploc bag for the scallop meat. Once you have these things, and the scallops have been on ice you are ready to clean them.

3 Steps For Cleaning Florida Bay Scallops Properly

Opening scallop shell

Opening The Scallop Shell (Photo Credit: PureFlorida.blogspot)

Scallop Cleaning Step 1: Separating The Shells

Removing the dark side of the shell from the light side should always be your first step. If you want to keep them on the half shell for cooking, keep them on the white (light) side. Carefully, with your butter knife or scallop knife, slide it in between the two shell side and scrape the muscle from the top of the dark side of the shell. By removing the adductor muscle from the top side of the sell will allow for the scallop to open up fully and you can toss the loose shell. The adductor muscle is the only part of the scallop you eat traditionally. I say traditionally because the other parts of the scallop are edible. The mantle and viscera are the other two parts that are typically eaten when you eat the whole scallop. Majority of coastal anglers only choose to eat the white adductor muscle.

Removing Scallop Guts

Removing All Scallop Frill & Guts (Photo Credit: Scallop Hunter)

Scallop Cleaning Step 2: Removing The Viscera And Mantle (The Guts)

Now that you have the scallop open with everything exposed it really is all about removing the gills and guts. You should be able to visually see the adductor muscle in the middle. You will want to isolate the scallop meat from the viscera and mantle. This is a rather simple process and can easily be achieved by holding the scallop upside down. Allow for the mantle, gills, and guts to hang down. Simply begin scraping everything away from the shell, this should free up everything besides right around the scallop adductor muscle. Carefully scrape around the muscle and the everything should come off in one piece leaving only the scallop meat still attached to the white side of the shell.

Scoop scallop Meat Out of Shell

Remove The Meat From Light Side Of Shell (Photo Credit: Authentic Florida)

Scallop Cleaning Step 3: Removal Of Scallop From Shell

After you have successfully removed everything besides the scallop meat you can leave it on the half shell for cooking or you can remove it completely from the shell. Leaving them on the half shell is a horrible option if you have limited freezer space. The only reason to leave them on the half shell would be for presentation. Simply use a knife or spoon to scoop the scallop meat from the shell. After you are finished cleaning them, wash them for cooking or freezing for later meals.


Check out our complete video for scallop cleaning to see all our tips in action.

If you have never been Florida scalloping you need to try it at one point in your life. Scallops produce a one of a kind tasting meat that is perfect in most dishes. Impress your friends and family with fresh scallops and have a reason for the entire family to hang out one Saturday afternoon. If you have any questions or comments, we want to hear them and answer them. Feel free to leave us a comment below or email us at Send us your scallop pictures to be featured on all of our social media pages. Maybe you have a tip that we have not mentioned we would love to hear it and share with our readers. Get out there and get a limit of scallops today and know the best techniques for cleaning scallops!

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