From earliest times, humans have consumed different types of edible snails species such as land snails, freshwater or saltwater snails. Join us to learn more about this interesting topic.
In addition to their edible consumption, these invertebrates are also bred for medicinal purposes, and even as pets. We invite you to read our article snails to learn about all the benefits related to the consumption of snails.
Table Of Content
Types of Edible Snails
There are more than 550 species of snails although not all of them are edible. Let´s meet the most common edible snails
Garden Snails (Helix aspersa )
This variety is called the “petit-gris” in French (meaning “little grey.”). It is a very small snail that can live till they are 4 to 5 years old, but can be harvested when they are 7 to 8 months old. The most popular garden snail is the one from Burgundy in France, which is quite used in dishes like the Très Gros” or “escargot de Bourgogne”. Their shell is a dull, mottled yellowish brown, and their flesh has a rich taste.
Turkish Snail (Helix lucorum)
These snails are very common in wooded areas and in wet plains or hills, as well as cultivated places. We also find them on stones and trunks of trees. They are the largest of the genus «Helix» Â, since their carapace is wide and almost round, with a diameter of 40 to 45 mm and a color that tends to white. They live in Central Europe and Minor Asia
Turkish snails have a very important culinary value since they provide a huge contribution of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iodine, and vitamin C.
Roman Snail, (Helix pomatia)
The roman snail, Burgundy snail or vineyard snail, is a gastropod mollusk and one of the most well-known and widely distributed snail´s species in the world. They are big snails whose shell measures about 3-4.5 centimeters in height and around 3 to 5 centimeters wide. They a brown hue, 3-5 bands or stripes and 4-5 spiral.
Otala Punctaca Snail
This species is similar to the common snail, although their shell is thicker and more solid, with a larger diameter (up to 4 cm). Otala Punctacas have brown hues with small diffuse lighter spots, with the dark brown opening and lips usually whites.
Other edible species are Cepaea nemoralis, Cepaea hortensis, Achatina fulica, Helix aperta and Otala punctata. The preparation of any involves to make them fast for a few days to be purged, remove their viscera, cook them and many times, put them back in their shells to be served. They are prepared with butter, garlic and some types of herbs such as dill and parsley and served in their own shell on a special dish to prevent them from sliding on themselves. Their meat has a slight hard texture and their eggs can be consumed as caviar
Edible Snails: Breeding Snail
The heliciculture is the breeding of snails for food purposes. Technically, it is precisely a way of breeding like the others, guided by its own laws and regulations which is believed to have originated around the Mediterranean area, probably more than 10,000 years ago. Nowadays snails are breed outdoors in fields surrounded by lush vegetation, where the leaves of the small plants prevent the sun from damaging them.
Technically, it is defined as a complete biological cycle, given that the collected snails are second generation, born, grow and fatten from the first generation inserted.
It is estimated that the current world consumption of terrestrial edible snails exceeds 300 thousand tons, and according to some studies, it is estimated that in the next twenty years that demand will multiply by five, that is, it will be 1,500,000 tons.
The average price of snails´ kilogram is around $ 3.- to US $ 4.50 of live snail put into destination, that is, it includes the cost, insurance and freight to the buyer country. In the domestic market it is sold to the final consumer at around US $ 3.50 – 8 per kilogram.
¿What kind of knowledge do you need to start a breeding ground?
It is essential to know in detail their physiology, biological stages and development cycle. It is also essential to manage information about pathologies, affections and enemies that may threaten their life. Moreover, it is essential to know about their nutritional and hygiene habits to maintain breeding sites in optimal
¿How are snails Bred?
There are basically three methods: extensive, intensive and mixed. The first one is carried out in open field in wide fenced lands, with vegetation suitable for their feeding. The second one requires certain facilities such as heaters and humidifiers to keep enclosures in optimal climatic conditions. The last one is a combination of the previous ones: they are raised in a first stage in intensive breeding cages and taken to the field for fattening before sale.