If you’ve ever been curious about what snails taste like, you’re not alone. Snails have been eaten for centuries worldwide and are considered a delicacy in some cultures. While they may not be everyone’s cup of tea, there are definitely people out there who enjoy the taste of snails.
Snails or Escargot have a very subtle taste, often described as earthy or muddy. Some people say they taste a bit like mushrooms, while others say they taste like chicken or white fish. Snails typically take on the taste of the sauces and herbs they are cooked in.
While they may not be everyone’s favorite food, snails are pretty healthy, so let’s delve deeper and answer the most common questions, such as how snails taste, what type of snails you can eat, and why they are so healthy.
Taste And Texture Of Escargot
The tastes and textures of different foods are very subjective, so what one person may find delicious, another may not enjoy as much. This is definitely the case with escargot, as some people love them while others can’t stand the taste.
How snails taste depends significantly on how they are raised and farmed. Many people have commented on how tasteless snails can be if eaten from a can. When I eat canned snails, I often only taste the garlic or butter sauce I have cooked them in.
Snails raised on a fruit diet will have a sweeter taste than those fed vegetables. If you want to get the full taste experience of escargot, you will be better off spending a little more on a higher-quality product.
Are Snails Chewy Or Soft
Snails are not generally considered the prettiest of creatures, and the thought of eating them can be offputting to some. At first glance, you may think that snails are quite rubbery to eat, which isn’t far from the truth.
Whether snails have a chewy or soft texture depends on how they are cooked. If snails are boiled or steamed, they can be very soft and easy to chew. However, if snails are fried or grilled, they will be slightly tougher and chewier.
Most people prefer their escargot soft and not too chewy, as this can make it quite difficult to eat. Fried snails have a slightly crunchy texture on the outside, which some people enjoy.
Despite your escargot’s chewy or crispy texture, they are usually still quite squishy and moist inside. However, an extended cooking period will help create a more meaty texture.
What Other Foods Taste Like Snails
Describing the taste of snails is often easier when comparing them to other common foods that most people have eaten.
Below is a short list of foods that either taste like snails or has a similar texture:
- Mushrooms – (Earthy undertones)
- Mussels, Whelks, and other mollusks – (Chewy and sometimes with a gritty texture)
- Chicken – (Meaty with a subtle taste)
- Whitefish – (Meaty / Chewy / Subtle)
If you have never eaten snails before, I recommend having them cooked professionally for your first experience, as the tones, textures, and flavors are better controlled by an experienced chef.
Is Escargot Healthy To Eat
Surprisingly, snails are very nutritious and healthy to eat. They are low in calories, fat, and cholesterol but high in protein and iron.
The table below contains some nutritional values of escargot based on a 4oz serving with garlic butter.
Nutrient – Amount – Daily Value
Calories – 414 – n/a
Carbohydrates – 4g – 1%
Protein – 9.64g – 19%
Total Fat – 40g – 51%
Saturated Fat – 28g – 140%
Fiber – 1.70g – 6%
Cholesterol – 229.07mg – 76%
Vitamin C – 3.4mg – 4%
Calcium – 170.10mg – 13%
Iron – 5.10mg – 28%
Sodium – 567.00mg – 25%
******* Sourced From Nutritionvalue.org (Link For 4oz Serving of Escargot & Garlic Butter is below) ***********
Snails are also a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, beneficial for heart health and cognitive function. Escargot also contains a significant amount of Vitamin B12, essential for healthy red blood cells and nervous system function.
As you can see, escargot is rich in valuable vitamins and minerals that can help keep you healthy.
How To Eat Escargot
If you have never eaten escargot before, there is nothing worse than sitting in a restaurant full of people with a plate full of snails and no idea how to eat them. Don’t panic, as it is actually very easy to eat snails.
You first need to remove the snail from its shell, which you can do by gently pushing the snail out with a small fork, pin, or toothpick.
Once the snail is out of its shell, dip it in the garlic butter sauce and pop it in your mouth. Chew slowly and savor the taste!
Are Garden Snails The Same As Escargot
Eating snails is a novelty idea for some, and the assumption is that one snail is no different from any other. The truth is there are many kinds of snails that you can eat.
The common brown garden snail, also known as Helix aspersa, is one of the most commonly eaten snail varieties. In France, the most popular snail is the larger Fat Burgundy Snail, also known as Helix pomatia.
What Type Of Snails Can You Eat
Not all snails are edible, so it is essential to know what type of snail you are looking for before collecting them from the wild or purchasing them from a supplier.
The following snails are all common edible varieties:
– Brown Garden Snail (Helix Aspersa)
– White Garden Snail (Helix Aperta)
– Black Garden Snail (Helix Lucorum)
– Giant African Snail (Achatina Fulica)
– Chinese Mystery Snail (Cipangopaludina Chinensis)
– Escargot Burgundy Snail (Helix Pomatia)
If you are still determining what type of snail you have, it is always best to check with a local expert or supplier.
Why Do People Eat Snails
Some cultures have been eating snails for centuries, as they are a cheap and easy source of protein. Escargot has become more popular in Western cultures as people have become more adventurous with their food choices.
Escargot is now considered a delicacy in many restaurants and is typically served as an appetizer or main course.
How Is Escargot Cooked
Before I talk about how to cook escargot, I should mention the importance of cooking it thoroughly. Snails can carry a parasitic infection called rat lungworm, which, in rare cases, can cause a form of meningitis in humans.
Rat lungworm (Angiostrongylus cantonensis) is a parasitic worm commonly found in rats. The lungworm larvae may be found in the feces of infected rats, which is then eaten by slugs and snails. The parasite is killed by cooking the snail meat to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius).
How To Prepare Escargot
If you are farming your own snails, you must know how to prepare them for the best eating experience. Collect snails from areas abundant in high-quality vegetation for the best flavor, and avoid areas exposed to toxic chemicals and pesticides.
Snails can be left in direct sunlight for 24-48 hours while emptying their digestive systems, and UV rays help sanitize them. Ensure you remove any dead snails after the process. If you don’t want to leave your snails in the sun, it’s ok and only an extra precaution.
Boiling your snails in a pot of water for 1-2 minutes will help remove the slimy coating and loosen the snail meat from the shell. Remove each snail from its shell and rinse thoroughly under cold water for several minutes.
The remaining slime can be removed using a solution of water and vinegar (1/2 cup of vinegar per gallon of water). Soak the snails in your vinegar solution several times until the remaining slime has gone.
There are many different ways to cook escargot, and in many restaurants, the snail will be scooped from its shell, which is then filled with a garlic butter paste before the snail is replaced.
If you cook snails at home, the most common method is to bake them in the oven. It is often easier to discard shells before cooking, but you can leave the shells on for the best presentation when cooking for others.
How Long Should Snails Be Cooked For
To cook escargot:
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius).
- Remove the snails from their shells and place them on a baking sheet.
- Drizzle with garlic butter sauce or olive oil and bake for 8-12 minutes.
Several recipes I have seen recommend cooking snails for only 5 minutes. I prefer cooking for longer, but it depends on your taste.
There are hundreds of recipes for escargot, which are country specific. For example, escargot is often cooked with garlic, wine, and parsley in France. In Italy, snails are commonly cooked in a tomato sauce.
Do You Cook Escargot While Alive
It is unnecessary to cook escargots while alive, as you can store them in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. If you plan to cook them immediately, it is best to place them in a cool, dry place until you are ready to begin preparing them.
Many chefs will cook their escargot while still alive to retain total freshness and maximum taste. If you cook your escargot while alive, it is best to do so just before they are needed.
Now that you know what snails taste like and how to cook them, why not give them a try? They may just become your new favorite food!
Rat Lungworm – Centers For Disease Control And Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/angiostrongylus/gen_info/faqs.html
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Eat Snails Raw?
Technically, you can eat snails raw, but it is not recommended. Snails can carry several dangerous parasites, including the rat lungworm, which is killed by cooking the snail meat to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius).
Are cooked snails safe to eat?
It will be safe to eat cooked snails provided they are an edible variety cooked from fresh to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Many snails, such as aquatic snails, can be very toxic, even after cooking.
Do you have to starve snails before you eat them?
It is not necessary to starve snails before you eat them. It’s recommended that you do not starve them as this can detract from the flavor and make the meat tough. If you are concerned about what the snail has been eating, cleaning them thoroughly before cooking is best.
Are snails meat or seafood?
This is a controversial issue as, technically, snails are mollusks, which puts them in the same category as oysters and mussels. However, most people consider snails as meat because most edible varieties are land-based.
Are snails poisonous to humans?
There are many different types of snails, some poisonous to humans. It is vital only to eat snails identified as safe for human consumption, such as the common brown garden snail. Various aquatic or marine snails are very toxic and unfit for human consumption.
Are snails red or white meat?
Snail meat is classified as white meat, similar to chicken or fish. It is low in fat and calories and is a good source of protein, iron, and magnesium. Snail meat is white due to the low level of myoglobin (a protein that carries oxygen) in the muscle tissue.