With our load of clams, we soaked them for a while in freshwater.
We got alot of input on using corn meal, etc on getting out the sand, but soaking for an hour was good enough.
Besides - the kids had more fun playing with them in the water without the mess of cornmeal.
The best tool for cleaning a clam is a pair of scissors.
Oh, and a few kids to help.
First step, use the scissor blade (or your thumb) and separate the clam from each of the shells.
Pretty easy to do. Completely separate the shells, so the meat is only attached along the back rib. Next, you can easily peel out the entire animal from the shell.
Also, make sure you snip off the old, tough tip of the tongue.
Clams are chewy enough without this piece of gum...
With the clam exposed, simply clip out all the guts and "soft tissue". There really isn't much meat in there, so don't bother messing with it.
What is left is the big tongue, and the foot. Run the scissor blade up into each to snip them open.
On the foot, clean out all the soft, gewy insides.
Here you can see the meat all openned up. The most important part is to make sure all the sand gets out!
After it is cleaned, we like to dry it in the sun while cleaning the others.
Here's a pretty good load...
It is good to keep it cool while air-drying. Get the air off to avoid splattering when frying it.
For this batch, we heated up the pan, melted alot of butter, and fried them up with salt and pepper.
Good thing we snapped a picture while they were cooking - because they disappeared before we got a photo of the finished product.