Can You Eat Apple Snails? Apple snails are one of the most popular freshwater snails available in the aquarium trade. They are colorful animals that are fun to watch, so many people may not have considered that you can eat them. The consumption of apple snails generally occurs in locations where the invasive snail has become a nuisance because it is an easy way to get rid of them. Today, we will discuss what the snails taste like and how they can be cooked.
Feeling adventurous? Try an apple snail dish.
Table of Contents
What Are Apple Snails?
Apple snails are aquatic freshwater snails similar to mystery snails. The main difference between the two is that apple snails can grow to much larger sizes, sometimes reaching up to six inches in diameter. To read more about mystery snails, check out our full guide. One of the most unique things about apple snails is that they have both gills and lungs.
Their lungs allow them to live outside of water for a few hours without dying. This is important because apple snails will only lay their eggs outside of water, so they need to be able to withstand conditions outside the tank. To read more about apple snails, check out our full guide.
Can You Eat Apple Snails? Are they Edible?
Can You Eat Apple Snails? Apple snails are considered invasive species in many countries like Thailand, so locals are encouraged to eat them to get rid of the pests. They are high in nutritional value and are considered a delicacy in many countries.
The snails are low in calories, but rich in protein and vitamins.
What Do Apple Snails Taste Like?
Many people who enjoy escargot say that the meat tastes similar to chicken or fish. However, most people cook snails in some sort of sauce, which they easily soak up, and the snails will take on the flavor of that sauce.
Apple snails are also reported to be chewy in texture, a sensation not enjoyed by many people. However, when they are cooked right, they take on a more pleasant meaty texture.
How To Catch Apple Snails
If you happen to live in an area where apple snails live natively or invasively, you can catch them yourself for your next meal.
Apple snails are quite slow and docile, so many times you can just pick them up. If you are having trouble catching them, however, you can also take these steps:
- Use a kick-net: a thin mesh net attached to two wooden poles resembling a scroll of paper.
- Look for disturbed areas in the sediment.
- Stabilize your net downstream.
- Move any rocks or objects above the net to shake the snails loose.
How To Clean Apple Snails
Unfortunately, snails commonly carry parasites that can be passed on to humans. Snails should be thoroughly cleaned and cooked before consumption.
Apple snails should NEVER be eaten raw or undercooked.
Most recipes call for boiling your snails during the cooking process, and this is the best way to eliminate any parasites.
Removing Bodily Waste
Prior to cooking the snails, you will want to fast the snails for two days. This ensures that their intestines will be empty when they are cooked and eaten.
Another method places them in a pot of cold water with a small amount of salt and vinegar. This will encourage their intestines to release their contents.
Apple snails like to eat detritus, something that you don’t want going into your own body, so you will want to rid them of their undigested food before consumption.
Fortunately, many people buy pre-cleaned snails post-mortem, so they don’t have to worry about this extra preparation step. If preparing live snails doesn’t sound appealing to you, this is the best way to go.
Watch this Can You Eat Apple Snails:
Cleaning Snails with Shells
A lot of cooks will remove the shell prior to cooking, so this next step isn’t necessary, but if you wish to eat the snails within their shells, take these steps to clean them:
- Use a knife to remove the operculum.
- Fill a large pot with freshwater and add snails.
- Throw away any snails that float to the top.
- Rub the snails between your fingers to remove any dirt.
- Discard the dirty water and repeat the process.
- Rinse the snails.
How To Cook Apple Snails
Cooking apple snails can take about four to seven hours in total. It is also quite difficult to cook snails because their bodies have a rubbery, unpleasant texture. When cooked properly, however, they are considered an exotic delicacy.
Using Live Snails
When the snails are ready to be cooked, they should be slowly frozen or boiled to kill them.
Freezing them is the kinder method because the snails will go into a state of torpor before the temperature gets too low. As the temperature continues to drop, they are less likely to feel any discomfort and will simply pass away.
After this is completed, you should remove the snails from their shells. The easiest way to do this is by using a pair of tweezers. You will want to remove the operculum as well which is attached to the foot.
Next, you will want to remove all of the intestines and cut off any of the pulpy bits that you find above the foot.
Preparation & Recipes
Most people find that the best way to cook snail meat is by boiling it for a couple minutes.
Then, the snails can be added to a bullion mixture with white wine and vegetables like celery, carrots, and onion. Seasonings like bay leaves, coriander, and thyme also add extra flavor.
For some recipes on how to cook apple snails, follow the links below:
- Apple Snails in Coconut Milk (Ginataang Kuhol)
- Apple Snail in Ginger Sauce
- Recipe by Thai Local Khun Densak
What Eats Apple Snails?
There aren’t many animals that feed on apple snails because they have a bad taste when eaten whole.
Still, a Florida hawk called the Snail Kite will feast on the invasive snails. The Louisiana Red-Earned Sunfish and red-earned turtles will also eat them. However, the main predator of apple snails is red ants who will decimate nests of eggs.
In the aquarium, some aggressive fish, like tiger barbs, will pick at snails until they become stressed enough to come out of their shells. They are best kept in peaceful tropical aquariums only.
Conclusion: Can You Eat Apple Snails?
Apple snails are commonly feasted on in countries where they are considered a pest. They are easy to catch and cook, and are considered a delicacy. Although we don’t recommend cooking up the apple snails inhabiting your aquarium, wild apple snails can make a great dish.
Click here to read what apple snails eat or find all our snail guides here.As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.