There are many land snails to eat (over 100 species). And this is actively used by mankind, because mollusks were eaten in ancient times: during excavations, scientists discovered empty shells in the caves of primitive people.
Today, shellfish are not only harvested in nature, but also bred in artificial conditions on farms. The fashion for helical culture also migrated to Ukraine. As in European countries, the following types are most popular for breeding (and, accordingly, for food):
- Helix pomatia (grape snail);
- Helix aspersa Maxima (large garden);
- Helix aspersa Muller (small garden).
It is also worth mentioning another popular breed — Helix lukorum (mountain), which is happily picked from nature and eaten, but rarely bred on farms.
In order for you to better understand the varieties of mollusks, we will tell you about each representative in more detail.
Absolutely all Ukrainians know this snail “by sight”. It is grape molluscs that are the indigenous inhabitants of our country, living in huge numbers in all its corners. It is Helix pomatia that we see in large families even in the urban area, especially in the spring and after rain.
An adult animal weighs about 50 grams, the shell diameter reaches 50-55 mm. For sale, snails come with a shell size of at least 30 mm.
The body of the mollusk is light beige, and the shell is monochromatic, light brown, grayish or sandy.
Grape snails are actively bred on open-type farms, as they are accustomed to our climate. For the winter, animals hibernate. The disadvantage of this breed is a long growth period (from 1.5 years).
Helix aspersa maxima
Despite the name with the adjective «large», the adult snail is slightly smaller than the grape relative. The maximum weight is 40 g, and the sink diameter is up to 40 mm. These snails weigh from 16 to 25 grams in a commercial form. You can also find the name Gros gris. The group of snails Helix aspersa is also called gray. This is the color of their body. The carapace is light brown with beautiful stripes.
The homeland of Helix aspersa Maxima is the southern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Our climate is cool for them, so these snails are grown in greenhouses. The intensive cultivation technology allows the transfer of molluscs to the market as early as six months after birth.
Helix aspersa muller
Delicacy babies (small gray snails, also called Petit gris) weigh only 10 grams, and the maximum shell diameter is 25 mm. The body of the mollusks is also gray, and there are bright specks on the shell.
In general, we note that Helix aspersa (both Maxima and Muller) is considered more delicious. It is not surprising that farmers choose them for breeding, because the cost of 1 kg of such snails in Europe is significantly higher: 3.5-4.5 euros per 1 kg, while the price of grape snails is only 1 euro.
In addition to rapid growth, mollusks are valued for their high fertility: in the clutch of small grays there are 100-120 eggs, and large ones — 120-160 eggs.
Now you know the features of the popular edible types of shellfish and can easily understand the restaurant menu. Try new dishes, explore international cuisines and have a culinary experience!