Sunday, 30 June 2013

Snail Pen 1.0

I now have the starting of a snail pen prototype. I've started with a simple wooden frame with a lifting lid, and intend to fix wire mesh to the outside, to keep out pests, and a wind proof mesh to the inside to give some shade. The whole thing fill be fixed into the ground and the wire mesh buried to stop burrowing (by pests, not snails ;-) )
I'll post more photos when it is completed.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Plan B

As a result of my experience cooking and eating garden snails, I have made a decision to resurect the St Mary Bourne Snail Farm plan. This is partly due to the success and positive feedback received from those who tried the snails I cooked, but also from those who have offered to help fund the project and were disapointed that the Kickstarter funding did not succeed.

The farm will specialize in farming snail species native to the UK, particularly white lipped, brown lipped and garden snails. They are smaller than the Escargot de Bourgogne (Helix Pomatia) but (based on my experience) have a better flavour and texture.

I will be contacting those people who kindly pledged support for the project when it was promoted on Kickstarter with a request to support the new project on slightly different terms.

If anyone else is interested in sharing in this adventure, please contact me and I'll give further details.

Eating Garden Snails

I have spent the last weekend camping with my lovely and large family in East Sussex and took the opportunity to cook them all some edible garden snails.

I had done a little research and came up with a list of edible snails that can be found in the UK.

The week before, I roped in my children to help me search the garden. We managed to find about sixty and housed them in an old fish tank where we fed them on sliced carrot and potato peel for a week. This is required for all of the grit that snails like to eat to pass through them.
We found three species that could be recognised as edible: Helix aspersa (the garden snail),
White-lipped Snails (
Cepaea hortensis
) and
Brown-lipped Snails (Cepaea nemoralis)

The snails were purged for two days before they were to be eaten by removing them to a pot without food and washing them regularly.

I cooled the snails down over night to get them to retreat into their shells, then placed them into salted water heated to a rolling boil.

They were removed after 5 minutes and rinsed again in clean water. Using a pin, I removed the snails from their shells then boiled for an hour in vegetable stock to soften the meat.

Finally I drained them and fried them quickly in butter, honey and pepper.

The number of snails was quite small for the number of people, but everyone that wanted to had a taste, with most people pleasantly surprised at how nice they tasted, particularly the smaller species (the white lipped and brown lipped snails).

Unfortunately I was cooking the evening meal, so missed the opportunity to take any photographs, I'll take some the next time I'm cooking some up. Maybe if you are reading this and decide to cook your own garden snails, you could send me a link to your photographs.

Monday, 18 February 2013

The Kickstarter project funding period has ended without meeting the target investment of £700. This has not stopped the project, just changed its initial size and scope. I will be self funding a smaller farm of about 1000 snails over the next year.

At the moment I have another project to concentrate on, Halcyon, a holiday home on the banks of the Norfolk Broads. I will return to this project when I have some time and it is a bit warmer ;-)

Thank you for all of those who pledged support through Kickstarter, I will supply your snails, please follow me as I take the project forward.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

It's been snowing quite a lot here in St Mary Bourne, so can't do much outside. I have, however come up with a logo.

I had some earlier attempts but was not happy with them based on text around a circle:

but these did not make me think quality food product so I did not pursue the idea any further. 

Foodies100 Index of UK Food Blogs
Morphy Richards

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Snail Pate 1.0

As I am off to a party this weekend, I thought I'd take the opportunity to come up with a new snail recipe to take along. If it proves popular, I'll include it in the recipe book.
I decided to start with a smooth pate as this is a good way to make a few snails go a long way and people can take as much, or as little, as they like. Apart from snails, the pate if flavoured with coriander and chilli to give it a fresh taste to compliment the earthiness of  the snails flavour and capped with a lemon butter. 
As I don't have a snail farm yet and fresh free range snails are out of season, I've used a 400g tin of imported French snails.
This is only version 1.0 of the recipe, I will post feedback after the weekend and try any suggested improvements on another occasion. Here is an initial photo. I'll get a better one when I come to eat some.

For the pate Recipe
  • 400g cooked snails
  • 1 tbsp Fresh Coriander
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 large mushrooms or double the number of snails
  • 1 tsp chilli
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 50g butter
For the lemon butter cap
  • ½ tsp lemon oil
  • 100g butter
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
Blend all of the ingredients for the pate together and gently fry for 10 minutes.
Blend the pate again until smooth.
Spoon into ramekins and smooth leaving ½ a cm at the top for the butter cap then cool in the fridge.
Melt the butter and stir in the lemon oil and lemon juice.
Pour the melted lemon butter over the pate until covered.
Place back in fridge until butter solidifies.
Serve on hot buttered toast.

A better photo will have to wait. The party where I was taking the pate was cancelled due to snow and I have put it all in the freezer ready for a new party date.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Monday, 14 January 2013

A New Beginning

Well this is my first foray into the world of KickStarter. Although I've completed other projects with either my own money or investment from friends such as RenSMART. This is the first time I have looked for public support so I've started small, an edible snail farm.

I think the snails will be sold under the name St Mary Bourne Snails and I've estimated the start up costs for setting up a small snail farm on an area of land that is currently covered in weeds. I've read up on the subject and have made a start on a design which I have created a short project plan for.
Last night I pressed the button on KickStarter and now I await their decision before the project goes live.

As soon as it does, I'll post the link here.
Thank you to all of those who have already offered support. I hope you will enjoy following my adventure :-)