Escargot Thuirinois: A Snail Farm

While I was in Thuir, in the Midi-Pyrénées region, I visited a snail farm: not something I really had planned on doing, but thought it would be interesting and oh so, French.

The reception area was a small trailer, with regional products displayed for purchase, where the owner cordially explained his business. It turned out that since the harvesting season is from March to mid-May, there wasn’t much to see other than empty crates and crinkled, Polaroid photos of the various stages of snail development.

I hadn’t really thought about how snails reproduce, albeit slowlyand learned that they lay eggs.  I also learned that the soil in which they mature cannot include fertilizer, as it burns the snails eyes, and that it takes about 3 months to reach snail adulthood.

This farmer raises about 50,000 snails each season, first in indoor plastic crates as an incubator, then they are transferred to the outdoor soil.  He said that generally, there is a 30% snail mortality rate (who knew?), and even higher with a too hot or too cold variation in temperatures. He showed enthusiasm and passion for his craft, even though there was an absence of les escargots à la catalan (recipe below).

Recipe credit: Symdicat Producteurs Pyrénées Orientales

7 thoughts on “Escargot Thuirinois: A Snail Farm

  1. Theadora says:

    Interesting tour! I love the snail in the top shot. Is he the farm mascot? The gift shop looks pretty darn great! Did you make any purchases? T. (Thanks for including the recipe.)

    • Yes, I guess it is the mascot, since it was on the outside of the building. I was surprised at how small the farm is, in general, for raising that many snails. Also vrey small gift shop – didn’t buy anything. I was disappointed at there not being any live snails to see, as it was off season, but it was still interesting. Thanks for your comment.

  2. colormusing says:

    Fascinante! The recipe sounds wonderful and easy (that is, if I’m translating correctly!)— I image you could substitute something for les escargots (since I don’t know where I’d find them here); mussels sound good!

  3. Hey, why not? Let me know how it turns out, if you try it.

  4. chef mimi says:

    No live snails? Do they just can them all?

    • Apparently, the snail raising season is from March through May, so only 3 months in duration. No idea how the snails arrive in March and didn’t think to ask that question 🙂

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