Cooking Snails and Slugs

Snails and slugs can be vectors for parasites, so learn how to stay safe when eating snails or slugs by cooking and boiling them thoroughly.

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The European Grapevine Snail and its cousin Helix aspersa have become naturalized in North America. All snails and slugs are edible and offer the advantage of being very easy to catch. But all wild snails and slugs can carry dangerous parasites, so they must be cooked thoroughly – especially the giant African snail, recently found in Texas and probably coming to an environs near you. Snails and slugs are best not even handled barehanded until they have been cooked.

Purging for a day or so with wholesome fodder (most any vegetable you would eat) is recommended. Boiling is preferred in the wild or for smaller snails such as these, as it makes the snail easy to remove from its shell. Boiling in vinegar removes the distasteful slime from a slug, which is its protection since it does not have a shell.

Slugs can be a vector for transmission of parasitic nematodes that cause lungworm in various mammals, so they are usually avoided by hedgehogs and other mammals when other food is available. In a few rare cases, humans have contracted parasite-induced meningitis from eating raw slugs. Cook well.

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Reprinted from Surviving on Edible Insects by Fred Demara with permission from Ogden Publications.

Surviving on Edible Insects

In this unique guide, author Fred Demara (who instructed readers on what plants to nibble on in Eating on the Run) shares tips for identifying safe insects, locating their habitats, harvesting them in numbers, and preparing them properly to make them safe and tasty to eat while on the move. Find the idea of eating insects hard to swallow? Get over it. To sustain life, if you don’t have the food you love, then you’d better learn to love the food you have.

Insects aren’t just a survival option, however. As the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization recently pointed out, it may be time to swap your burgers for bugs. They’re packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and yummy if cooked properly. (Tex-Mex ant taco, anyone?) Plus, they’re abundant everywhere and free for the taking, making them the perfect survival food.