How to Make Escargot From Your Own Garden Snails

Nab and cook batches of garden snails with this practical guide on how to make escargot, and make your garden pests taste like the French gourmet item served in overpriced restaurants.


| November 2012



Garden Snail

The French don’t consider the garden snail a nuisance at all, but a reason to spend time with the family, walking with buckets through their yards—even grassy fields—in pursuit of their prize. They refer to it as “hunting.”

Photo By Thomas J. Story (c) 2011

Based on the James-Beard-Award-winning One-Block Diet, The One-Block Feast (Ten Speed Press, 2011) is the ultimate guide to eating local. Complete with seasonal garden plans, menus, 100 recipes and 15 food projects, this guide explains how to raise and produce everything needed for totally made-from-scratch meals, all from your own backyard. The following excerpt on how to make escargot is taken from “The Winter Projects.” 

You can purchase this book from the GRIT store: The One-Block Feast.

How to Make Escargot

Growing edibles inevitably means growing snails, especially because our garden is organic and hospitable to wildlife. We have a big snail population snacking on our carefully tended leafy vegetables. One day Johanna, our test-garden coordinator, suggested that we eat them. Eat them? As in—escargots?

That was definitely the French approach to dealing with snails in the garden. In fact, the French don’t consider them a nuisance at all, but a reason to spend time with the family, walking with buckets through their yards—even grassy fields—in pursuit of their prize. They refer to it as “hunting.”

But were ours the type of snails that could be eaten? Maybe they produced toxins. And, most important, how would we make them taste like the French gourmet item served in overpriced restaurants?

First, we experimented with sautéing them, and discovered that preparing snails wasn’t as simple as tossing them around in butter in a frying pan. They were, er, slimy. So we did some research and consulted many authorities on the cooking of France, including M. F. K. Fisher and Georgeanne Brennan, and reread our own article on escargots, published in 1988. All advised pretty much the same technique for cooking snails, with slight variations: Purge the snails (put them on a cornmeal diet in a closed dish for several days to clear their innards of any noxious stuff they may have been nibbling), boil them, extract them from their shells, and then use them in whatever recipe you have in mind.





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