” These are most anxious times on account of the slugs. Now every morning when I rise I go at once into the garden at four o’clock and make a business of slaughtering them till half past five, when I stop for breakfast.”
An Island Garden by Celia Thaxter (1894)
Snails – if you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em
If you are inundated by snails, you could consider eating them. They do not have to be ooh la la francais escargots out of a tin. It appears that our common snail here is the internationally edible variety of Cantareus aspersa, formerly known as Helix aspersa. If you are keen to try, it is often recommended that you purge the snails for a couple of days. You can do this by starving them or by feeding them on bread. A genuine snail-eating Italian on Twitter told me that the technique is to bring them to the boil, wash them, boil them again and serve with lashings of garlic butter on a bed of lettuce. If you are squeamish about boiling live snails, the best way to euthanase them may be to put them in the freezer for a short while. The ever-useful internet tells me that each snail weighs about 10 grams and you need at least 6 per serving.
This advice is theoretical on my part. Our accord with the many birds in our garden means that we don’t have sufficient snails on hand to try it out.
First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.