September 09, 2010

How to get snails ready for cooking

Snails are ready for consumption when they are mature, that is, when a lip forms at the opening of their shell. Before maturity their shells are more easily broken, making them unable for consumption. The commercial weight for Helix Aspersa is 8 grams or larger.

Nutritional composition of raw snails (per 100 grams of edible portion) is:

- Energy (kcal): 80.5
- Water (g): 79
- Protein (g): 16
- Available carbohydrates (g): 2
- Fibres (g): 0
- Fat (g): 1
- Magnesium (mg): 250
- Calcium (mg): 170
- Iron (mg): 3.5
- Vitamin C (mg): 0

For getting canned snails are washed, steamed, shelled, and then washed in a vinegar or lemon juice, and water-solution. Producing quality snails is somewhat tricky because you must take care to prevent food poisoning. 

To have snails ready for cooking remove the membrane, if any, from the shell opening. Cover them with a solution of water, 11/2-cup salt or 1/4-cup vinegar for every 50 snails. You will see the mucus will turn the water white.

Change the water several times during the 3- to 4-hour soaking. Rinse several times under running water until it gets totally mucus free. Put the snails in cold water and bring to a boil. Boil about eight minutes, then drain and plunge the snails into cold water. Drain. Pick the snails out of their shells with a needle or small fork. Remove the intestine and cut off all black parts. Some people cut off the head, tail, and all cartilage or gristle. Prepare the snails according to your recipe. 

An alternate method consists of washing the snails well in clear water. Drop salt into boiling water along with lemon juice and/or herbs, and cook for about 10-15 minutes--until you can easily remove the snails from their shells. Drain and rinse.

From: National Agricultural Library


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