Unwanted garden snails cooked by gardener
A gardener who found her garden had been invaded by snails has devised recipes for cooking and eating them.
By Richard Savill
Last Updated: 5:28PM BST 13 Apr 2009
Oriole Parker-Rhodes, 59, a grandmother, has begun making meals out of the snails she has found in her garden and has set up an internet blog with her recipes and tips, and information on keeping and breeding them.
"Last summer it was really wet and warm, ideal for snails," she said. "I was treading on them and they were also eating our home-grown potatoes."
Her visitors to her home in Anglesey were mainly the garden snail, Helix Aspersa, which came to Britain with the Romans, who liked to eat them. Miss Parker-Rhodes said she had eaten weeds including sorrel and nettles for years, because they were nutritious, they had flavour, they were "free", and she enjoyed picking them.
Eating snails was also "part of living with nature", she said, adding that in the present economic climate people could benefit from following her example.
"I was brought up to be interested in nature," said Miss Parker-Rhodes, whose mother was a birdwatcher, and her father a mycologist. Her companion is an entomologist studying insects. She has developed her own cooking preparation methods, which involve giving the snails a home for about a week in an enclosed space, such as a bucket covered by a pair of tights.
She gives them food and water, including lettuce, onion, stale bread and bran, a process designed to clear out any grit in their guts. The snails are then purged, which means they have no water or food for 48 hours, so their guts empty.
To kill the gastropods, they must be right inside their shells, she says, and then plunged into boiling water for five minutes.
Mrs Parker-Rhodes, who was recently interviewed by John Sargeant on the BBC programme, the One Show, said she takes them out of their shells, washes them and boils them again in stock for about an hour until the snails become tender.
She said restaurants usually serve six per plate as an hors d'oevre but her meals consist of 12 with salad, garlic, parsley or butter sauce and bread.