We were talking about how big the snails we keep finding in our yard are. Thinking it would interest her I told my youngest niece about escargot and that theoretically we could safely eat the ones in our yard. I expected to hear "Eww" instead she got this manic grin on her face and said "Let's do that!" The agreement we came to was that the next good day for snail hunting if she could catch enough to make a meal we would work on turning them into food. Here it is the very next weekend and we have steady rain all this morning. Now we also have a jug full of garden snails snacking on swiss chard, oregano, and basil.
So, I've done a search and didn't find the threads about people actually eating their garden snails. Please speak up if you do have any advice. For now we're planning on washing the snails and changing out the vegetables and herbs every day till we cook them. Probably two full weeks because preparing and then cooking them sounds like a full day project that she can do on a Saturday. If this turns out well, maybe it can become a regular spring feast.
edit: threads about eating snails, not snails about eating snails
This is too funny to not share. My brother tends to have a lot of snails in his yard. We were talking about other places snails might be found earlier. My niece comes back into my room shortly afterwords to tell me (all happy and excited) "Tomorrow we're going to Uncle ~'s house and there's has a buttload of snails" and from the other room I hear my sister "Oh no!" She forgot that children will do exact quotes.
The link does still work. I actually found three different, very detailed articles on how to prepare the snails. They all agree on basic steps and vary just enough to be sure they weren't copy pasta.
Catch the snails and feed them nontoxic foods for at least a few days (10-14 seems to be most common) washing the snails and replacing the food regularly.
Get rid of the slime with salt water washing (some sites add vinegar, some do this before boiling some while boiling)
Boil the snails (anywhere from 5-15 minutes recommended)
Remove the meat from the shell and cut/scrape off the dark section where it was attached. If you don't destroy the shell in this process it can be used in the next step. At this point you could freeze the meat for storage until ready to prepare for a meal.
Most recipes call for baking for a long time submerged in herbed butter, usually in the original shells. Apparently you could also prepare them in any way you would traditionally cook mussels or clams. They're close relatives.
Oddly enough, my biggest hurdle here is that I don't like the taste of shell fish. I can also recognize bottom dwelling fish by taste. I suspect the long purge where the snails eat nothing but fresh vegetables and herbs will fix any flavor issues. The only time I had escargot in a restaurant it was extremely rubbery but the flavor was fine. Long cooking should render them tender as well.
Okay, tomorrow is cooking day. We have them on a water only purge (after two weeks of vegetables and herbs). Does anyone know if I'd kill them if I add applecider vinegar to the water? Using wine in the purge is another traditional way to preseason them, but we're not big wine drinkers.
We decided we'd waited long enough. We flash boiled them in salt water with a couple splashes of ACV and pulled them from their shells. They're simmering with an onion right now. After church they'll be baked with parsley, butter, and garlic. Church is an afternoon thing here.
I wouldn't recommend smashing snail shells by slamming you bare hands on them. I was removing shell pieces from my wrist. Ouch.
Simmered in broth and then baked in small casserole dish with garlic and generous quantity of parsley butter. While it baked I used the same broth to cook pasta and then reduced it. I added the casserole contents to the broth and that is the sauce for the noodles.
The 10 year old loved it. She says they taste like shrimp and she wants to make more. The 12 year old wants to not think about what it is, but she still went back for seconds. I don't like most shellfish, but this is edible. And unlike the chewy eraser I've tried in restaurants, these are tender. The hardest part of the whole process was shelling them. Of course the shell that slipped through ended up on the plate of the picky eater.
Location: coastal northern nor cal
posted 2 years ago
I am completely in awe that you were able to transform something so disgusting ( I live in the PNW and snails are the bane of my existence) into what truly appears to be a gourmet dish. BRAVO!!!
I swear it's not hard. They really are just shellfish that escaped the waters. I actually used a recipe for linguini with white clam sauce. Just be sure to simmer them long enough to tenderize before using in recipes.
Snail farming is also an option for generating income from a fairly small area of land. Much like rotational grazing, you plant up smallish enclosed paddocks with desirable tasty green plants then once they have grown a bit you can introduce the snails to fatten them up. I too like snails, although I haven't ever collected my own for eating!
Did a quick google search and discovered a snail farm just around the corner from me - less than 5 miles!