Snail Varieties

Although for many of us it is difficult to include snails in our daily diet, it is one of the prime foods that are both tasty and healthy. Snail flesh contains 60-90 calories per 100g, a lot less that most mammals, fish and poultry that are consumed.

Read more...

Snail Varieties

Have a look at the different snail species found in Greece and the Southern Europe

Aspersa (Müller)

The Aspersa (Müller) snail is a gasteropod, which belongs to the family helicidae, of the genus helix. It is essentially a small, common garden snail, which in Greece is known by its Cretan name hochlios or khochlios or by its French name petit-gris (small-grey).

This snail is small, about the size of a bottle cap, and the weight of the adult snail is about 10 grams. It has two pairs of sensors, one large pair and one small pair. The large pair is the snail’s eyes, which actually have limited vision. The small pair is tactile sensors, which are the organs the snail primarily uses to perceive its habitat and move around.

Snails are a hermaphrodite species, but are not self-fertilizing. This means that they have both female and male genitalia but two snails are needed, in order to copulate. After fertilization about 100-120 snail eggs are laid.

This species has a characteristic colour, and its meat is of substantially lighter colour when compared to other snail species. Its meat is also considered the tastier and so it is preferred in recipes, with fewer herbs and spices, so their exquisite flavour is not lost. Under European legislation the Aspersa (Müller) snail is the only species in which the meat is consumed whole, straight from the shell. It is widely consumed in Greece, Italy, western and southern France, Spain and Belgium.

Helix Aspersa Maxima

The Aspersa Maxima snail is a gasteropod which belongs to the genus helix. It is known by its French name gros-gris (large-grey) or simply as the large snail.

This snail is comparatively larger than the Aspersa (Muller) and is about the size of a tablespoon. The weight of an adult Maxima snail can reach up to 18 grams. It is a hermaphrodite species, but not self-fertilizing and it lays around 70-80 eggs.

The meat from the Aspersa Maxima snail is dark and very tasty, but in order to be edible the entrails and liver must be removed. In some cultures the snail’s genitalia is also removed.

It is widely consumed throughout central Europe, usually in the well-known recipe escargots à la Bourguignon, i.e. with garlic, butter and spices.

Nutritional Value

Although for many of us it is difficult to include snails in our daily diet, it is one of the prime foods that are both tasty and healthy.

Snail flesh contains 60-90 calories per 100g, a lot less that most mammals, fish and poultry that are consumed.

Some 16.1% of the flesh is pure protein and a small percentage of around 0.5%-1.4% is fat. Snail meat is a rich source of important vitamins, such as niacin, minerals and of trace elements, whilst being low in salt. It also has a particularly high iron content (more than red meat), potassium and magnesium.

The snail is a food of high nutritional value when compared to the majority of meats that are consumed. It is important to note that the above data refers to snail meat only and that, like all other foods, it will be affected by the cooking method.

Both in the past, as today, the great nutritional value of snails means they are suitable for periods of fasting and it are permitted by the Orthodox church for this purpose. There are recipes for cooking without oil, which are suitable for fasting.