Vintage Sarasota: Clamming in Sarasota Bay

This week's Vintage Sarasota post: A history of clamming in Sarasota.

By Sarasota County Historical Resources staff members December 29, 2014

[caption id="attachment_280" align="alignnone" width="488"]

102708bobbootspoint rqtvwm
Courtesy of Sarasota County Historical Resources[/caption]

For millennia the waters off the southwest coast of Florida have provided food for coastal inhabitants. The settlers of early Sarasota shared that bounty. Clamming, as shown in this photo at Anton Kleinoscheg's home on Sarasota Bay off Cunliff Lane around 1890, was, with harvesting oysters and catching fish and sea turtles, a common activity for putting food on the table. Since there were no area stores for the purchase of fresh seafood, and no refrigerators or source of ice to preserve it once acquired, the catch had to be consumed the same day.

The hats and long sleeves, skirts, pants and stockings were not only the fashion of the day but also protected the skin from sun and the ubiquitous mosquitoes.

Not all newcomers knew how to cook the harvest from the bay. Nellie Lawrie, daughter of one of the Scottish families who arrived in 1885, later recounted their first experience with clams. As a gift from an earlier settler, she put the clams in a pot of water. After cooking about an hour, they were tasted and found to be tough, so they were cooked some more. They were still too tough to be eaten at noon, so were cooked later in the afternoon for dinner. Those clams never did cook tender.

Special thanks to Ann A. Shank, former Sarasota County Historian, for her research and time devoted to writing this article. Provided by Sarasota History Alive. "Where History Happens Everyday!"

Show Comments