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.