The European Garden Snail (Helix aspersa), The Turkish snail (Helix locurum) and the Roman or Burgundy snail (Helix pomatia), also known as the land lobster for for its superior flavor and texture, are the most popular species of edible snails in the world. These three land dwelling shell slugs are at the center of most top-dollar escargot dishes. When mixed with herbs, butter and garlic their tender morsels become a one of the most luxurious and delicious foods you can find.
Where do Escargots come from?
Helix aspersa, locurum and pomatia originate from different regions of Europe, but all three major edible snail species thrive in the wilderness surrounding the Alps in Eastern France. The escargots are commonly seen sliding along the French countryside after heavy rains in search of food. It is in the fall and early winter months, when the snails are bulking up to survive colder temperatures, that they are collected by escargot harvesters. Unlike snail farms that grow their mollusks in artificial ecosystems, each escargot from this region is literally hand-picked. These French snails are all collected in the wild, put in baskets and then taken to the processing headquarters.
How are Escargots processed?
After being delivered to the production facility the snails are inspected, washed and separated by species. Each harvest of each mollusk type is assigned to a lot number. Each lot is removed from their shells and the meat is flash boiled in jacketed steam kettles to remove contaminants. The snails are then calibrated using state of the art machines to and human observation, measuring weight and uniformity so that right size snails are used for producing large and extra large escargot products. The calibrated meats are all cooked separately in an vats of "court bouillon" aromatic broth (water, salt, turmeric and coriander) to finalize the flavor. The large and extra large snails are packaged with the broth in tins and pasteurized, and the smaller meats are put back in the shell with a home-made garlic herb butter paste. Although escargot producers sell the shells empty or with the home-prepared meat and garlic butter spread, most of their production value comes from the containers of larger meats with broth. Each tin contains only one species of snail, holding either 12 meats for retail sizes or 72 meats for bulk and restaurant use.
Click here to get our special recipe for preparing and serving Escargots a la Bourguignonne.
Watch the video below to see all the steps involved in the Romanzini escargot process: