1.1 Harvesting and storage
The age and size at whichsnails should be collected from the snailery obviously depends on the farmingobjective: whether the snails are grown for personal use or for the market.Snails grown for personal use can be harvested according to the farmer’s needs;whereas customer preferences dictate the optimum size and consequently age of snailsharvested for the market.
Snails usually need to growfor at least one year to reach their proper size and weight. It is recommendedto harvest snails by the time they reach two years, because after this age theirrate of growth slows down.
Snails are picked by hand, at nightfall, when they become active and are easier to find and collect. They need to be put carefully into a basket, box, crate or sack, to avoid damaging the shell, which would lower their market value. Never put more than 10 kg snails together in whatever storage receptacle you use, to avoid cracking or crushing the shells in the lower layers.
Snails, whether for householdconsumption or for the market, can be stored safely for up to 6-8 weeks in abox or crate, if you do not want to collect them daily. First put a 5 cm layerof sawdust or finely cut corncob leaves on the bottom of the box; place overthis a layer of snails, then another 3 cm layer of sawdust, and so on, endingwith a covering layer.
The box should be kept in a cool, shaded place, well protected from predators and poachers. Snails can be transported to the market in baskets, boxes or sacks, but always take care not to damage them by putting too many together or on top of each other (max.10 kg).
1.2 Processing of Snail Meat
Freshly gathered snails havejust eaten (except if collected when aestivating or hibernating). They can beused directly, but all faeces and dirt must be removed in the kitchen. It iseasier and more hygienic to have them defecate before use. Store them in abasket or sack in a cool, shaded place without food for four days, to enablethem to discharge all aliments in their intestinal tract. They are now readyfor washing, boiling and dressing.
Put snails in a bucket withwater, adding some salt and a dash of vinegar. Lemon or lime juice can be usedinstead of vinegar. Soon, the snails will start to discharge their slime: amilky, whitish liquid. Throw away the water and repeat the washing procedureuntil the water remains clear.
After washing, put snails intoboiling water, again adding some salt and vinegar, or lime or lemon juice, andboil thoroughly for at least 5 minutes. Achatina Fulica (but possibly the otherGALS species as well) is reported to be an intermediate vector of the RatLungworm and other diseases potentially lethal to humans.
Improperly cooked Achatina Fulicameat may act as a major source of human infection in places where it iscommonly eaten by people, such as Taiwan. Thorough boiling is essential!
Extract the snail from its shell, draining off the body fluid or haemolymph (unless local recipes call for its use), remove the viscera (heart, stomach, kidney, liver, intestines) and cut off the head. The meat is now ready for boiling, stewing, frying or whatever cooking technique your local snail recipe book calls for.
2.1 Composition and Nutritive Value
The data provided beloworiginate from Nigerian studies of the GALS species Archachatina Marginata. Itcan only be assumed that the composition and nutritive value of the other twoGALS species discussed in this Agrodok are more or less the same.
Table2: Approximate Dressing Percentage of Archachatina Marginata
Total live weight of snail100%
Meat c. 40% (the edible footof the snail)
Shell c. 30%
Viscera c. 17%
Body Fluid c. 13% (Haemolymph)
Table3: Approximate Carcass Composition (including moisture)
Crude protein 60->80% (Dependingon diet of the snails)
As far as protein isconcerned, snail meat compares well with traditional sources of protein likechicken meat, pork or beef.
A Nigerian study on mineralcomposition of snail flesh showed that values of iron, magnesium, calcium,potassium and sodium were consistently high; while cobalt, lead and copperindicators of dangerous pollution were not detected. Snail meat complements theminor and trace elements required for proper growth and development in humans,so it is recommended for regular consumption.
In Ghana Achatina Achatina isconsidered the most prized species for consumption, followed by Archachatina Marginataand Achatina Fulica, in order of preference.
sources mention Achatina Fulicaas being slightly inferior to the edible European snails because it is‘rubbery’ and often ‘swampy tasting’. However, when highly flavored withgarlic, chopped and stuffed into shells of the genuine escargot, most peopleeating the African snails are effectively deceived!
On the other hand, a French website offers tinned Achatina Fulica ‘escargot’ (around 10 g/snail) including shells possibly to make them resemble the real escargot). Taiwanese sites offer tinned Achatina Fulica snails for sale in Taiwan and China. The species is also sold as a local food source in Seoul, Korea.
In Ghana snails are used to prepare a variety of dishes, including soups, sauces and kebab. The big snails (locally referred to as ‘Atope’) are preferred for soups. These range in weight from 120 to 450g.
However, juvenile snails(referred to as ‘Nwawaa’ in Ghana, weighing between 20 and 40 g) are preferredfor sauces.
The meat is removed from theshell and the tubular appendages attached to the mantle are cut off. The meatis washed repeatedly to remove slimy substances and dirt. It is then put in asaucepan, with enough water to cover it, and boiled.
The water is then drained andthe meat is washed a second time in cold water. Snail kebabs are prepared fromspiced, boiled or fried snails.
For preparing light soup(Ghana) and pepper soup (Nigeria), already cooked snail meat is added to avariety of meats (for example, beef, mutton or fish) and sliced onions, andthen steamed for about 10-15 minutes. Water is added to the steamed meat andbrought to the boil.
A blended vegetable mixture (including peppers and tomatoes) and salt are added, and the mixture is cooked until it thickens slightly. The soup can be served with such foods as fufu, rice, kenkey (corn dough), yam and bread. Other soups, such as palm-nut soup, groundnut soup and cocoyam leaf soup (also known as ‘Green green’ in Ghana), can be prepared similarly.
Reference:Snail Farmers Group