Valerie organised this one … thank you for thinking of the idea and finding a local grower. Snails may be 'everywhere' but growers of snails for eating are not ;-)
A delightful drive courtesy of Lissa … passing restful bush scenery and we found one of the Glasshouse Mountains almost, it seemed, touching distance from the road. Mount Coonowrin ...
Then on to Mary and Cliff's Slow Food Garden … and food doesn't get much slower than snails ;-)
After a brief intro we repaired to the verandah of the Queenslander-style house for morning tea including home-made Pavlova. Generous serving too. Then we brave souls had our 'snail tasting' - one cooked snail sitting on finely-chopped cooked shallots, garlic and butter which in turn sat on an upturned Mushroom cup. Delicious.
Then down the hill to the Snailorama/Snailarium. Inside the shadecloth-clad walls we saw:
Most of the visitors stayed for around half and hour listening to Cliff expound on Snail-culture.
And Cliff and Mary's own vegetable garden with Possum and Brush Turkey-proof fencing:
If I had a 'bucket list' seeing a snail farm and eating a cooked snail would have been on it. Of the foods I like to eat and do not want to prepare, Calamari is still my favourite ;-)
For all that, I would not have missed this trip for anything! Thank you Valerie for organising it.
You're more than welcome. Our boys are keen to start a micro snail farm. We have been dreaming up various weird and wonderful settings to be created later this year. Definitely on the agenda. Maybe a tasting at our next open garden visit who knows...
More photos coming soon...
The snails turn out to be the same ones I find in my garden, especially around the Choco, which is where Cliff tells us he got his original breeding stock. Common Brown Garden Snail or Helix Aspersa Muller.
Cliff opens the shade-cloth boxes during the day (when the snails are normally asleep) for aeration and to hose down the boxes and the board inside the box where he puts the ground up high protein, high calcium Chicken Mash with added molasses pellets, ground up in a food processor for about 1min until fine - see the pic in the middle with small pale piles of ground mash between the two water containers. Cliff also feeds them veg sometimes - they especially like chopped up Choco.
The floor of each box is Forest Mulch with compost worms taking care of leftover food and snail poo. Excess worms are fed to the chooks. The snails lay their eggs in this composting soil.
Snails breed all year long. Each snail has both sexes and mating involves each impregnating the other with a tiny calcium spear. See the website for pic of the internal workings of the snail.
Once snails reach about 7gm in weight (yes, he has a set of scales) they are ready for harvesting. They are put into a simple plastic storage container drilled with drainage holes and purged for 5 days. No food and twice daily watering out.
After purging they are ready for eating. Preparation involves dropping the snail into boiling water for 2.5mins only! Overcooking will result in a chewy snail. The meat is then winkled out of the shell and used in whatever manner desired.
Cliff also has a "free range" area planted with non-edible Syngonium which provides a safe place for baby snails to grow until big enough to put into the shade-cloth boxes for further on-growing.
See HERE for a video showing the whole process.
Cliff and Mary also have a Facebook page.
That is very interesting! Thank you for the details and links, Lissa.
I just need someone capable to make me a box for keeping them in! Paying job if anyone is interested.
Rhys needs a project :) good stuff.
I'll measure out the area and send the dimensions. Pretty much what we saw at the snail farm the other day - same sort of thing. No bottom - will be open to the worms. Shade cloth sides on hardwood frame with a lift-able lid.
Will need some kind of removable board to run down the middle for the water bowls and food to sit on.
Love the man lol
Looks disgusting but do they taste ok.
Everyone's tastes are different, but yes, many of us think they taste good - I think it depends on how you cook them and what you mix them with.
Basically a form of protein that's easily farmed in the backyard same as quail, fish or chicken....or guinea pigs.I have my snail box now thanks to Rhys and sons, just need some rain so the resident snails come out again and I can collect some and put them in the box and start feeding them.