Monday, November 18, 2013

Find some to eat Now (Autumn)

This is a good and easy time to collect some snails to eat, in Northern Europe at least.
It’s the traditional time of year in France.  Thy can be cooked without any prior preparation.  They have gone into hibernation, but not used their fat yet.  They don’t need to have their guts cleaned.
Look among rocks, under stones or slabs, or pieces of wood in a wood pile.
Take large ones, but leave some in each place to continue their lives.
You need a minimum of 6 per person for a dish.  ENJOY!

Monday, July 16, 2012


     Q:  What about slugs?
    To take your question seriously:
When John Sergeant asked me that for the One Show, I answered something like, “Well, they are related, so they’re probably alright, but I don’t fancy them myself.”  I later heard that Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall rose the challenge on a TV program, and came up with:
            There is recipe on how to prepare and cook them, and 3 other recipes for slugs.
  I liked the suggestion by HFW about killing slugs by putting them in the freezer.  You could do the same with snails, maybe kinder?  It’s the slime of slugs which takes time and effort.  Snails are not nearly so slimy!
            This appallingly wet weather is wonderful for snails.  If you want to eat some, first prepare a suitable container like a bucket.  Keeping them in is a challenge.  They won’t cross copper, so a band round the tope should keep them in, I haven’t tried that.  See the slideshow for how I’ve done it.  Give them dry stones or broken clay flowerpots, to give them some to attach themselves to.  No water, there’s enough in the atmosphere.  Collect the bigger ones and put them in, wel secured, but allow air exchange.  You need at least 6 per person. Leave them in their bucket until they’ve hidden inside their shells and made a thin membrane across the hole of the shell.  A week is plenty of time, less may be enough.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Collecting, eating and cooking snails go to March Archive

For the original information on collecting and eating garden snails, and how to prepare them for cooking --
you need to go the to MARCH  in the archive list on the right of the page.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Keeping your snails while you're away

What a lot of questions! I hope the answers will help others as well.
Loads of young can hatch from one mating pair, plenty for several meals once they’ve grown up.
To leave them while you’re away:
For the snails to be active they must be kept moist. When it’s too dry for them they aestivate, which is like hibernation but in summer. So keep them in shade, with plenty of water to keep the environment moist. Growing food plants will last them longer. They like grass.
They can dig themselves down into the ground, that’s where they lay their eggs. I'm not sure how deep, but pushing some slate, sheet metal or glass down a foot deep would surely keep them in. I believe the French dig them a pit, which is cool and moist.
In winter outdoors in the UK they hibernate. I let them do that. If you want to them keep active and feeding they must be kept warmer.
I hope this helps, good luck!

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Yesterday was sunny and dry again, and though the news said some planes were flying, we saw no sign of any. Lovely!  Spring is very late this year, and we’ve had a long spell of lovely sunny weather, though often there is a chill breeze off the sea.
            I went wandering around to enjoy the wonderful spring growth bursting forth everywhere.  It all looked so temptingly succulent I went back to fetch a collecting basket and started picking.  Nettles first, just the opening leaves at the top, I wore washing-up gloves not to get stung.  Then lots of ramsons (wild garlic), it is getting close to flowering now, and the big leaves are getting coarser.  I picked the young ones from the centre of the plants.  They’re so abundant here I don’t have to be too careful.
All the time adding various odds and ends of edible leaves.  The cow parsley is showing a few leaves in places.  I only took one or two from each plant, ribwort plantain is beginning to grow, cleavers (goosegrass) is good to eat if cooked before it flowers.  I read that recently in my new book “
I also read there that primrose leaves are good to eat too.  I gather a few from the wild meadow and more from the garden, where I have scattered seeds from wild plants.  Silverweed has just started coming into leaf, I took that from my little rock garden where it’s too abundant and would like to spread further if I gave it chance, so I was weeding at the same time.  Sorrel too is a great addition to a weedy meal, it’s acidity adds a nice piquancy, and it’s nice leafy now before the flower stems start shooting, though that doesn’t stop using them through the summer too.  Some young dandelions from the centre of the rosettes went in too.
Alexanders has been green all winter and always available, but I feel since the Romans were keen enough to bring it here with them it’s bitterness must have value, so I picked a generous handful of younger leaves, and noticed I had a flower bud too. 

Then I went to boggy stream and picked a few water parsnip leaves, but they’re not big enough yet to be worthwhile, the same is true for the watercress.  Both I gather regularly throughout the summer, but I always soak them for a while in salty water to get the tine snails (and any other creatures) to drop off, and cook them thoroughly for fear of liver fluke, as cattle graze there and drink from the stream.

I had a large mass of weeds to take home for supper, but they cook down to a much smaller amount, so you need a lot.  I chopped all the weeds up, which takes ages, (I had a brief fantasy about food processors) and threw them in the pot as I did them.  I tried to put those that take longest to cook in first.  That’s plantain, nettles and any that have thick stems, though I cut off the thickest usually.  I made sure the water weeds got well cooked too.  The goosegrass and ramsons went in late on.  I actually kept some of the ramsons back to add at the last minute because the garlicky flavour gets lost after just a little cooking.
I hadn’t put much water in the pot, and I tasted the dark liquor to decide what spicing I should add.  None!  The flavour was rich and almost meaty, it tasted better and as strong as any stock cube.  Amazing!  We had with some mealymeal (ground maize cooked to a porridge, the staple in southern Africa.) 
A mass of cooked weeds like this can be used in many ways. 
More recipes tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

See the March 09 archive for details of preparation and recipes

Eat snails now, no trouble. And More TV

Autumn is a good and easy time to gather snails to eat straight away. The French do this traditionally. The snails have grown and fattened up throughout the summer, and are now hibernating. This means they have purged themselves and are dormant, but have not yet lost much weight. All you have to do is find them, and kill them in boiling water soon after gathering. Don’t keep them in a warm damp place first or they might wake up again.
If you’re ready for a snail meal, you can freeze or bottle them after boiling in stock. See the March 09 archive for details of preparation and recipes.

Another TV film crew! This time it’s for S4C, the Welsh channel, and particularly for teenagers. Since I can't speak Welsh I was not allowed to contribute any pearls of wisdom or scraps of knowledge directly to the show. I dread to think what the angle is, but I heard a lot of laughter.
Now I think: What a ridiculous thing to be famous for, eating snails. I can't really understand what’s so strange and fascinating about it. There are far more interesting things in my life.