A univalve mollusk with a spiral shell. Of the various varieties, the vineyard snail, which feeds on grape leaves, is considered the best eating but it grows slowly and is difficult to raise. It has a dull yellowish brown streaked shell with a blotchy flesh, and grows to approximately 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 inches in size. The French petit-gris is a smaller variety, growing to about 1 inch, and is currently grown in the United States. Its shell and flesh are brownish gray in color.

Fresh snails can be found in specialty markets throughout the year and are generally boiled first and then baked or broiled in the shell. Canned and packaged snail shells are also available in many supermarkets.

When preparing snails for eating, processors "fast" or keep the snail from eating for approximately 1 week before placing them through a salt bath to remove other elements of consumption and allow them to dry. The snail is then cooked in boiling water for a very short period of time, the meat is removed from the shell and the hepatho-pancreas is also removed. The meat is then placed in a cold water salt bath for 15 minutes or so, removed and rinsed thoroughly. The snail is then ready to be prepared or frozen for future use. .

To prepare snail meat, a Court-Bouillon is commonly made as a cooking stock in which the snail will be cooked. A Court-Bouillon will contain white wine, water and seasonings in which the snail meat is cooked for 1 to 2 hours depending on the amount of meat being prepared. If snails are to be prepared with the shell, several options can be considered. If the meat is kept in the shell, they are typically washed in soda powder, rinsed thoroughly, and then boiled to sterilize the shell and contents. If however, the meat is first removed, the process first involves the removal of the meat and then sterilizing the shell. After the meat has cooked, the shell is first filled with butter and the snail, which may also have a coating of butter or sauce, is then placed back into the shell and served individually. Small seafood picks (forks) are the utensil that is used to remove the meat while holding the snail in hand, or a snail tong is used to securely hold the shell while a pick easily removes the stuffed meat.

USDA Nutrition Facts


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