How to eat snails, or why Transcarpathians need French delicacies
The opening of the first snail farm in Transcarpathia in Nizhny Selishte made a fuss – the ubiquitous journalists, curious tourists, and those who were “annoyed” reached out for it: why does a person seriously cultivate what can be gathered enough in the vineyards after rain. In a word, the farm has become both a “discovery” and a “highlight”, and already an “integral part” of the region, because you don’t feed the Transcarpathians with bread, and don’t take away the opportunity to be “not like everyone else”.
Farmer Mikhail Demyan became interested in French delicacy four years ago. Friends brought from abroad, gave a try and hinted at opening a case. At first hesitated, because the production of snails in Ukraine is not yet widespread. Therefore, Mikhail had to acquire all the knowledge regarding their care and maintenance abroad, in European countries. He visited the farms of Poland, Romania, Moldova and Cyprus and took a chance – he started a business in Transcarpathia.
“It may seem that there is nothing special in this matter. But no, this is not a standard scheme for you how to raise chickens, pigs or rabbits. Here you need a special approach. Therefore, there was a lot of theory and then practice on farms abroad,” – shares Michael.
Returning after training abroad, the Transcarpathian bought Mediterranean mollusks and kept them in a separate room. Indoors, he could control the temperature, which is important for the viability of snails. Now Michael has about 120 thousand of them. They live in the fresh air. They do not like daylight, therefore they hide under special shields. Shellfish are real vegetarians who feed them with grass and plant-based feed. The real delicacy for them is carrots.
And snails like humidity. They are selected from their sink only after rain. Since there are no daily showers in Transcarpathia, Mikhail created a special irrigation system.
“Such communal apartments. Downstairs is a bedroom. Upstairs is a dining room, because we throw feed on them,” says Mikhail.
Judging by their size, snails are fed well. The necessary sizes, subject to proper cultivation, they reach in one year. Michael plans to sell his first products in European markets. There, he said, there is a great demand for such a delicacy. In Ukraine, this is an expensive pleasure: a kilogram of a semi-finished product costs up to a thousand hryvnias. Therefore, for the year they consume only up to 10 tons here, while in France – about 25 thousand tons. Also, in all EU countries, except Malta and Crete, the collection of natural snails is prohibited, so farmers and sellers from these territories are pretty interested in buying them.
“Europe generally takes any product very meticulously. We need to go through all the procedures to be able to export from Ukraine. The buyer conducts a lot of research to make sure that our snail meets European standards,” sighs Mikhail and immediately smiles: “Ours are the best” .
Now the snails went to winter. When at night the temperature drops to +3 … + 4 ° С, they dig into the ground and fall into suspended animation until spring (when the ambient temperature rises above +8 ° С). In winter, so that they do not freeze, the ground is covered with hay.
In spring, mollusks crawl out, in the first month they gain weight lost during the winter hibernation, begin mating games. Around July 10, they begin to spawn. Eggs grow until mid-August, then babies are born and first eat the shell in which they grew. Subsequently, they get to the surface, find food in the grass and begin to eat. Over the next two months, young growth grows a solid shell-house, strengthens it and prepares for winter.
On closed-type farms with climate control, you can get up to three generations of snails per year (the French have already reached four).
On the Transcarpathian farm there is an opportunity to try snails. They are prepared according to various recipes, most of which are borrowed from European colleagues. The mollusk meat has a specific taste. Each evokes its own associations.
“Snails have been used since ancient times,” says Depo. Transcarpathia, dietitian Oksana Mondik. “Both in nutrition and in medicine. Shellfish meat is easily digested. By the way, as I managed to find out, this is the only type of meat that is allowed to be consumed even How can it be beneficial? 100 g of product contains 10 g of protein, 32 g of fat, 5 g of carbohydrates, as well as vitamin B6, B12, iron, calcium, magnesium. The meat of snails is soft, it is easily digested and broken down. For example if it usually takes 4-5 hours on average to digest pork or chicken, then and digesting the meat of snails and two enough. “