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Snail farming - making good use of a "pest"

 
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A while back, I wrote a blog post about my experience raising snails.  My article was really focused on raising snails for food, but I very quickly learned how they can work in a garden. If you want to get started in heliculture, start small. Build a wooden frame, like you would for a raised bed. It needs to be at least 2 feet high, but the other dimensions are up to you. Snails can eat through wood, but they won't if they have preferable food inside. Bury the frame a foot deep to keep the snails from digging out. Plant it densely with radishes before adding the snails. Radishes are good food for them and keep them healthy. You can plant a few anti-biotic herbs too, but radishes will likely suffice. Put in a small reservoir for fresh water. In terms of food, water and temperature, snails are much like chickens - surprisingly sensitive. Pick about a dozen of the largest, healthiest snails from your garden and put them in the pen (let the ducks have the rest). Cover the pen with wire screens (old window screens work well). Feed them daily on vegetable scraps. Don't feed them anything rotten and remove anything that begins to rot from the pen. Rotting food can make them sick. Very soon, they will reproduce. Little pearly eggs will be under every surface and soon, tiny snails will emerge. At this point, harvest the big ones. 12 snails will have produced more than 100 baby snails. Obviously, you will have to cull frequently both snails and eggs for human and animal consumption... or scale up dramatically. When the weather cools, the snails go dormant. Collect them then and put them in a cloth/burlap/mesh bag and hang this in a dry, cool place. They will stay formant until the weather warms and they are exposed to water. While they are dormant, clean out the pen and harvest the rich manure for your garden. Make sure there re no eggs in it - these are very easy to spot once you get used to looking for them. Snails are an easily manageable, delicious addition to a garden system!!!  

Here is the link to the article: http://reclaimingsouthernfood.blogspot.com/2015/12/forgotten-feast-snails-real-slow-food.html
 
pollinator
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Is there really a demand for them ? I live in France and it's a traditional although I would suggest far from overwhelmingly popular food .
I won't be trying them again rather stick with the garlic and parsley sauce and bread

David
 
Wj Carroll
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I would not say that there is any demand commercially.  Most folks, even higher end restaurants, use canned snails.  However, we have tons of them here and they are tough on the garden.  They are a source of protein that is going to waste, both for human and livestock consumption.  I find the delicious.  The old restaurant garlic butter version is okay, but I prefer to use cream, shallot, ham or bacon, fresh herbs and wine... dip bread in the broth.  Really excellent.

Back when I had my little snail box, I really enjoyed the eggs.  One of my favorite ways to prepare them was to pulse sour cream or buttermilk, cream cheese and and feta cheese together in a food processor, with dash of salt and fresh herbs.  I would fold about a tablespoon... sometimes more, into the mixture gently, spoon it into mushroom caps and broil briefly just to brow the top.  That is earthy and delicious.  I also found the eggs blended with a soft herb butter or blu cheese to be excellent over a good grilled steak pork chop!
 
Wj Carroll
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Oh yeah... if you just can't eat them use what you don't feed to the poultry as fish bait.  De-shelled snails make excellent bait!
 
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Wj Carroll wrote:Back when I had my little snail box, I really enjoyed the eggs.  



According to the Wheaton Eco Scale, you must be 4-5 levels ahead of me
 
Wj Carroll
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Mike Jay wrote:

Wj Carroll wrote:Back when I had my little snail box, I really enjoyed the eggs.  



According to the Wheaton Eco Scale, you must be 4-5 levels ahead of me




In terms of permaculture faming, I am still pretty low on the scale and learning every day.  When it comes to food.... Full on crazy!  Seriously though, the eggs are very mild - probably the least strong caviar of all.  If you served it to anyone and didn't tell them what it was, I doubt anyone would object to the taste.
 
Mother Tree
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They are very popular here in Portugal.

Net bags full of them are readily available in the supermarket.



And at the right time of year all the cafes will have signs proclaiming that they 'ha caracois'

 
David Livingston
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they seems much smaller than the ones sold here in france https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escargot
 
Wj Carroll
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Burra Maluca wrote:They are very popular here in Portugal.

Net bags full of them are readily available in the supermarket.



And at the right time of year all the cafes will have signs proclaiming that they 'ha caracois'



Wow, that makes my mouth water!  I need to get another snail farm going ASAP!
 
Wj Carroll
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David Livingston wrote:they seems much smaller than the ones sold here in france https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escargot



They are.  The ones we have here on the east coast of the US are the smaller, common brown snail.  Only the west coast has the larger, double helix "escargots", brought over by immigrants from Europe.  If memory serves, both snails were introduced to the States by European immigrants, and became a feral pest.  This makes them invasive, which is why folks here should take action to control them in non-chemical ways.  So, I advocate eating them, using them as poultry feed or fish bait.  If the snail caviar could get a toe hold among the trendy foodies (As Bill Mollison might have termed them), that would really be the answer numbers wise.  I know that there is at least one snail farm in France that makes the caviar, but I have yet to see it marketed here.  One would have to live in a very trendy market to introduce such an exotic food..... although, it is actually very mild and not at all shocking or even challenging in flavor unless you way over salt the eggs.
 
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Went on holiday to portugal last year on the med coast line , they had snails in most of  the local bars ,served lightly boiled in salted water some butter and garlic and thats it, tasty, having just spent a few weeks before this being tormented by the little buggers eating away my garden i made a point of eating them where ever they were on offer , having several large ice cold beers in a frosted glass for 1.5 euro to accompany each bowl made it even more enjoyable . I had intentions of following this practice  when i got home , firstly to get beer at 1.5 euro a pint meant putting on a batch of homebrew--not too difficult, then round up some snails. But  after a few snails into the bucket  and i found a whole bunch of them , feeding on dog turds !!!, so that ended my gastronomic revenge .
 
Wj Carroll
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tony uljee wrote:Went on holiday to portugal last year on the med coast line , they had snails in most of  the local bars ,served lightly boiled in salted water some butter and garlic and thats it, tasty, having just spent a few weeks before this being tormented by the little buggers eating away my garden i made a point of eating them where ever they were on offer , having several large ice cold beers in a frosted glass for 1.5 euro to accompany each bowl made it even more enjoyable . I had intentions of following this practice  when i got home , firstly to get beer at 1.5 euro a pint meant putting on a batch of homebrew--not too difficult, then round up some snails. But  after a few snails into the bucket  and i found a whole bunch of them , feeding on dog turds !!!, so that ended my gastronomic revenge .




I can agree on the real beer pint.... I' a home brewer.  It really annoys me when I order a pint of beer or even just a neat whiskey out and about.... the pint is never a real pint and they charge you extra not to put ice in a glass.... that means that you are being ripped off.   As for the snails... well, they eat organic matter.  You can clean them out by feeding the flour, or just wait to eat the 2nd generation.  They are also hermaphroditic... and slimy.... definitely a "check your normal assumptions at the door" critter.
 
Burra Maluca
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I just remembered - I took these photos last time I was in the supermarket.  They seem to be priced according to size!

Price per kilogram.  Pounds and pints are a bit unheard of around here...

 
Wj Carroll
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Burra Maluca wrote:I just remembered - I took these photos last time I was in the supermarket.  They seem to be priced according to size!

Price per kilogram.  Pounds and pints are a bit unheard of around here...




In the words of Grady form "Sanford and Son", "Great googly moo!"  I'm cooking a pot roast with some herbs and root vegetables right now... If I could dump a bag of those in the pot, with some bacon fat and celery and some wine..... oh my...oh yum!
 
tony uljee
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While st there is a tradition of snail eating here in rural ireland ,its the from the sea --the periwinkel--very rarely available now as overharvesting has reduced them in quantity and down to the size of a pea once you have wiggled it out of the shell , traditionally done with a pin , which i thought was risky enough seeing as they were sold in bags outside the busy pubs after many  pints of porter. Now im not a fussy carnivore but those things looked like snot after a days work in a dusty field and tasted worse , yet most people here would retch in horror at tackling a land snail--once properly fed and purged i would now have to advise. But we do now have i think 2 organic snail farming enterprises in ireland , but not farming the local deviant veg killers but rather the large giant african one which was brought in via the pet trade , so far it hasn t been reported to have escaped into the countryside, and the market for some of these are our immigrants population coming in from central africa ,nigeria  mostly where it is traditionally enjoyed .
 
Wj Carroll
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tony uljee wrote:While st there is a tradition of snail eating here in rural ireland ,its the from the sea --the periwinkel--very rarely available now as overharvesting has reduced them in quantity and down to the size of a pea once you have wiggled it out of the shell , traditionally done with a pin , which i thought was risky enough seeing as they were sold in bags outside the busy pubs after many  pints of porter. Now im not a fussy carnivore but those things looked like snot after a days work in a dusty field and tasted worse , yet most people here would retch in horror at tackling a land snail--once properly fed and purged i would now have to advise. But we do now have i think 2 organic snail farming enterprises in ireland , but not farming the local deviant veg killers but rather the large giant african one which was brought in via the pet trade , so far it hasn t been reported to have escaped into the countryside, and the market for some of these are our immigrants population coming in from central africa ,nigeria  mostly where it is traditionally enjoyed .

\


Brother, if you ever visit the Southeastern coast of America, I can set you up with some sea snails!  I often bring home a 5 gallon bucket full!
 
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Those big brown ones, bottom right of Burra's photo.... they are the ones that eat everything in our back yard.....

so am i right in thinking that if i get a fish tank, pick a load of these and imprison them in it, feed them on flour and wait 48 hours, I can eat them?? It sounds bizarre enough to have a go at
 
Wj Carroll
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Linda Secker wrote:Those big brown ones, bottom right of Burra's photo.... they are the ones that eat everything in our back yard.....

so am i right in thinking that if i get a fish tank, pick a load of these and imprison them in it, feed them on flour and wait 48 hours, I can eat them?? It sounds bizarre enough to have a go at



Yes!  Flour is what most folks use.
 
 
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Wj Carroll wrote: If memory serves, both snails were introduced to the States by European immigrants, and became a feral pest.  This makes them invasive, which is why folks here should take action to control them in non-chemical ways.  



I never knew that. Thanks, now I've learned something today!
 
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