Nature is rich in animals and other inhabitants and snails are no exception. The number of species is very high. Australia is a home for more than 3000 species. They are divided into herbivores and predators. Herbivorous mollusks are fed with plants, while predators usually eat representatives of their own kind. There are more «vegetarians» in our latitudes, but predators were found too to be used for different purposes. For example, a waterfowl predator Helena snail is usually kept in aquariums because it is very beautiful, but also because it helps control the excessive breeding of aquarium inhabitants. Predators can be both terrestrial, and water inhabitants.
Herbivorous species are mainly pests that harm orchards and vineyards. For example, the Asian Snail-Tramp reaches a length of up to 18 mm. It eats grape vines of large vineyards. Despite the huge variety of shellfish, only some of them are used for food.
Types of edible snails
These mollusks have been consumed in the Ancient Rome and Greece. They were fed with flour, aromatic herbs and wine, giving the meat a unique and delicate taste. In different countries, diverse kinds of mollusks are used for food. Recipes for cooking are also very different. In one part of the world they are considered a delicacy, while they are used as snacks in another part.
What are the types of edible snails?
In the countries of Europe they usually eat terrestrial snails of Helicidae family, which has its subtypes, depending on the place of inhabitance:
- Helix Pomatia – grape snail. It is originated from Central and south-East Europe. Its meet is considered to be tastier than that of other types.
- Helix Lucorum – can be met Eastern Mediterranean region. It is mostly consumed in Greece and Georgia.
- Helix Aspersa- is known as garden snail. It inhabits many countries of the world, but can be often met in the countries of Mediterranean region, Western and Eastern Europe. There are severs subtypes: Helix Aspersa Muller and Helix Aspersa Maxima.
Which snails are edible?
Although edible types are different, the most delicious, whose meat is considered a delicacy are used for cooking. These types include grape and garden snails. They are grown on specialized farms, such as the Snails House farm in large quantities for sale, are supplied to restaurants and stores, as well as for the pharmaceutical industry. French gourmets eat grape snails, while garden snails are also popular.
Helix Pomatia is one of the most common species in cooking. Its meat is the most valuable. The individual reaches the size and weight necessary for eating in 2-3 years, its weight can reach 30-45 grams.
Helix Aspersa Maxima is known as a large gray snail. It differs from grape type by a shorter cycle of cultivation. To reach the size corresponding to commercial and consumer criteria, they need one season, a period of 5-7 months from spring to autumn. An adult of this species weighs 16 to 25 grams and is able to lay 120-180 eggs.
Helix Aspersa Muller also known as the gray little snail. Its advantage is that it is used entirely in cooking. Although it is small, the meat is very tasty and does not require a special initial treatment. Prepare it together with the shell, without removing the intestines. Its weight reaches 6-10 grams and lays 80-120 eggs. It takes only 5-6 months to reach the necessary size.
Otala lacteal is less well-known, but still edible type of a milk or Spanish snail. It is not grown everywhere, and consumed by the Spaniards, Portuguese, Greeks and inhabitants of other Mediterranean countries. It is collected in the wild and considered an invasive pest. It is slightly smaller than Helix Aspersa, the pattern on the shell varies greatly, but overall it is beige with darker brown strips.
Technology of snail cultivation requires attention and patience
It is necessary to create comfortable conditions for the maintenance and cultivation of mollusks. They are, as a rule, placed in favorable conditions for reproduction in the specially equipped fields. In such conditions, they give offspring, gain weight, and are later collected, cleaned, cooked and have frozen. Later, after packaging, they are delivered to restaurants and shops.
The described varieties are used in the cooking. They are not only delicious, but also very useful, because of a large number of vitamins and amino acids necessary for our body. Snails are a delicacy and are very popular in European countries.
What snails are consumed in France?
Helix Pomatia, grown in Burgundy, is the most appreciated in France. A delicious dish, Escargot de Bourgogne, is prepared from them. The French are the largest consumers of mollusks in the world. Annually they eat about 27 thousand tons or 700 million pieces, while their demand is satisfied only by 60-70%. Naturally one Burgundy is not enough to feed all gourmets, so Europe imports a delicacy product from other countries.
How to cook French snails?
Traditional French recipes are not very complicated. The basis, of course, is the snails. It is not necessary to use only live shellfish. Canned and frozen are also widely used. The principle of cooking presupposes mixing the boiled fillet with butter, various spices and stuffing the shells. Depending on the selected ingredients, the recipe will receive different title. Therefore, for consumers of other countries, each of the recipes can be called «French.»
Recipes for cooking and the types of shellfish used in food in each country of the world are different. Nature generously endowed the world with their diversity. They are grown on farms or in the wild; their meat is an invariable source of vitamins and substances useful to our body.