Types of snails
Nature is rich in inhabitants and snails are no exception. The number of species is very high. There are more than 3000 species in Australia. They are divided into herbivores and predators. Herbivorous mollusks feed plants, while predators usually eat representatives of their own kind. In our latitudes we can usually meet «vegetarians», but people have found an interesting application to predators. For example, a waterfowl predator Helen’s snail is usually kept in aquariums not only because of its beauty, but also for its ability to control the excessive breeding of aquarium inhabitants. Predators can be both terrestrial, and inhabitants of water reservoirs.
Herbivorous species are mainly pests and harm orchards and vineyards. For example, the Asian Snail-Tramp reaches a length of 18 mm and is a serious pest. It eats grape vines of large vineyards. Among the huge variety of shellfish, only some of them are used for food.
Types of edible snails
These mollusks were consumed in ancient Rome and Greece. They were fed with flour, aromatic herbs and wine, giving the meat a unique and delicate taste. In different countries consume diverse kinds of food and recipes for cooking are also different. In one part of the world snails are considered a delicacy while people from other countries use them as snack for soup or street food.
What are the types of edible snails?
European countries consume terrestrial snails belonging to the Helicidae type, which has subtypes, depending on the region of habitation:
- Helix Pomatia – is a grape snail, originated from Central and South-East Europe. Its meat is considered more delicious, compared to that of other species.
- Helix Lucorum – can be met in East Mediterranean region. It is consumed mainly in Greece and Georgia.
- Helix Aspersa- is more known as garden snail. It is widespread in many countries of the world, but most often it is met in the countries of the Mediterranean region, Western and Eastern Europe. There are several subtypes: Helix Aspersa Muller and Helix Aspersa Maxima.
Which snails are edible?
Although there are many types of edible snails, only the most delicious are used in cuisine, the meat of which is a delicacy. These include grape and garden snails. They are grown on a snail farm such as the «Snails House» farm in large quantities for sale, supplies to restaurants and stores, as well as to the pharmaceutical industry. French gourmets eat grape snails, but the garden ones have found their recognition.
Helix Pomatia is one of the most common species in cooking. Its meat is valued more than other mollusks. The species reaches the size and weight required for eating in 2-3 years, its weight can reach 30-45 grams.
Helix Aspersa Maxima is known as gros gris differs from grape snail by a shorter cycle of cultivation. This species require one season to reach the size corresponding to commercial and consumer criteria, that is, a period of 5-7 months from spring to autumn. An adult species weighs 16 to 25 grams and is able to lay 120-180 eggs.
Helix Aspersa Muller also known as petit gris. Its advantage is that it is used entirely in cooking. Although it is small, its meat is very tasty and does not require any special initial treatment. Prepare it along with the sink, without removing the intestines. Its weight reaches 6-10 grams and lays 80-120 eggs. The time it takes to attain its readiness is less than that of its larger relatives and constitutes only 5-6 months.
Less well-known, but also edible is Otala Lactea, a milk or Spanish snail. It is not grown widely and consumed by the Spanish, Portuguese, Greeks and citizens 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 snails growing requires patience and attention
It is necessary to create comfortable and suitable conditions for the maintenance and cultivation of the whole group of mollusks. As a rule, they are placed in favorable conditions for reproduction in specially equipped fields. In such conditions, snails breed, gain weight, and are collected, cleaned, cooked and frozen. After packaging they are delivered to restaurants and shops.
The described varieties are used in cuisine of many nations of the world. They are not only delicious, but also very useful, because of a large number of vitamins and amino acids necessary for body. Snails are a delicacy and are in great demand in European countries.
Which snails do the French eat?
In France, Helix Pomatia, grown in Burgundy, is the most appreciated type. 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%. Of course Burgundy is unable to provide all gourmets, so Europe imports this delicacy from other countries.
How to cook French snails?
ТTraditional French recipes are not very complicated. The basis is the snails and it is not necessary to use only live snails. Canned and frozen meat is also widely used. The principle of cooking lies in mixing of the boiled fillet with butter, various spices and stuffing of shells. Depending on the selected ingredients, the recipes have different names. Therefore, each recipe can be called «French» for consumers of other countries.
Recipes for cooking as well as types of shellfish, used for food, are different in diverse countries. Nature has generously endowed the world with its diversity. They are grown at farms or in the wild; their meat is an invariable source of vitamins and substances useful for the body.