A “clam sausage” is made in Casco Bay off the coast of Portland, Maine. Imagine a sausage casing made of fabric, but instead of meat, it is filled with tiny clams tied to a rope. It’s called the Shell Line and is just one of the many inventive processes the team is working on Pony Island shells used every day.
The day begins at 5 a.m. when clam harvesters sail into the icy water on one of the six 40 by 40 foot rafts to create a line of clams to hang in the water. They feed small, unmarketable clams that need more time to grow from the previous day’s harvest into the machine that creates the line. The line is then dangled from the raft so that the clams can grow sustainably in the water and protected from predators. This also makes the harvest more efficient when it comes to pulling it out.
From there the process becomes high tech. A machine helps separate the clams from the line and from the other organisms that have grown around them. They are then directed onto a conveyor belt and into a machine that washes the clams and separates them from their clumps. Next, the team brings the transport back to the processing facility, where a series of machines help remove fibers, inspect, polish, package, weigh, and distribute the clams with another series of super high tech Machines to ship.
At the end of the day, after the tedious process has been eased a little by the bespoke machinery designed to help clam farmers, some of the largest sustainably grown clams in Maine are ready to be sold to shops, chefs, and restaurants.