So now you have successfully harvested your limit of razor clams. What next? Well first you need to store them in a way that will keep them alive until you get a chance to clean them. Some people put them on ice, some people will just get a towel or piece of burlap wet with ocean water and place it on top of the clams, some people say keep them in ocean water for a couple hours so they will pump out the sand inside, but I personally just put them in a cooler with the lid cracked open a little to let air circulate and then I clean them as soon as I can. It is always best to clean them the same day you dig, but if for some reason that is not possible just keep them damp with ocean water, and cool, and they will stay alive and fresh for a couple days.
Once you are ready to start cleaning the first thing you should do is put them in the sink and rinse them really well with cool water. Make sure to flip them over and rinse both sides so you can get as much sand off as possible. While you are rinsing the clams start to boil some water in a kettle.
Once your water comes to a boil you will use it to "blanch" the clams. Poor the boiling water over your clams slowly until the clams begin to pop open. This should only take about 10 seconds or so, you do not want to poor the boiling water any longer then that or it will begin to cook the clams causing them to get rubbery and tough in texture.
When the clams pop open like in the image above, immediately poor cold water on them and start to remove the meat from the shells.
The meat should peel out of the shells very easily by hand. You may need to use a knife to slice through the adductor muscles on some of the stubborn clams.
Discard all the shells and set the clams aside as you prepare to clean each one individually.
Next, snip the tip of the neck (siphon) off on the clam. A good rule of thumb when cleaning these clams is that anything dark will be discarded, and anything light colored is edible. I like to keep the tip of the clam necks to use as bait for surf perch fishing ( just put them all in a mason jar with a little clam nectar and freeze until needed). Never been surf perch fishing? You're missing out! Learn how here.
Then cut the clam open from the base of the foot to the tip of the siphon along the "zipper".
Rinse the sand out of the meat thoroughly once you have cut the meat open.
Cut the digger (foot) off at the base and set it aside.
Remove the darker portions (these are gills and palps that make up the mouth) from the meat. Occasionally you will find very small crabs and worms during this process that were consumed by the clam. Just discard them and proceed with cleaning, they do not affect the quality of the meat at all and are nothing to be concerned about.
The body of the clam is now done. Set it aside and move back to the digger.
Cut the digger down the middle so it will open up and lay flat. Cut away and rinse out all the darker portions so all that remains is the white meat.
You have now completed the cleaning process on this clam.
Repeat the entire cleaning process on the rest of your clams. This can be pretty time consuming at first, but like anything else the more experience you have and more frequently you do it the faster and more efficient you will become.
I recommend using a vacuum sealer to store your cleaned clams. This makes a sealed final product that is ready to freeze until use and also makes a very presentable way to give clams away to your friends, family, neighbors, etc.