Saturday, November 29, 2008

How to Eat Slugs

For anybody who is interested in the how-to of slug-consuming, here is the recipe I posted on our blog 2 years ago, when we ate our first slugs. Since then, I've learned enough to know that eating leopard slugs and dusky arions is the way to go (they're the edible invasives that are taking the habitat of the banana slugs). But nevertheless, here you go... the full slug deets:

(Cross-posted from an Oct. 2007 post at Rickshaw Unschooling, my previous blog.)
Today we harvested slugs. Yes -- slugs. Banana slugs. We, the intrepid harvesters of all foods wild and edible, tromped out in the dark, heavy forest looking for slugs. And found one. One green one, and one black one, which we declined to eat, because our friend Sheila says they taste like rubber tires, and even just licking them raw can make your tongue numb. (Not appetizing, we thought.)

We were terribly disappointed in the lack of slugs, turned over many an old rotten log and stone in our search, and ended up bringing home a large collection of various grubs, worms, millipedes, and one beetle and very large centipede as a result. Luckily it started raining on the way home, and we did manage to harvest 4 slugs on the return walk: one for each of us!

Here are the kids, discussing our plans at a particularly devoid-of-slugs-moment in the woods (notice Rhiannon's horrible eye infection in this video! Poor Annie!):

Finally, we did get home with the slugs, and the following photos will tell the story:
The Recipe: Deep-Fried Slugs and Green Tomatoes
Allow the slugs to live in a bucket or terrarium full of healthy wild greens for at least a few days (we leave them for about a week). This ensures they've excreted any potential poisons they may have ingested prior to being harvested, and fed up on healthy greens.

Look at the slugs before you kill them. Say "poor slugs", and "I'm sorry, but I hope you taste yummy." Then pick off any large pieces of dirt.

Drop slugs into a bowl with ½ vinegar, ½ hot water. Soak for 10 minutes or so to kill them and remove slime.

Rinse, then boil for about 3 minutes; change water.

Rinse, and boil again, until they stop producing slime. Stir well to separate slime from slugs, then rinse thoroughly. Slit along ventral side of each slug, being careful not to slice the organs, inside, and pull out the digestive gland (in posterior of slug), and any other organs that come out easily.

Turn slug inside out, cut a small slice into the inside of the mantle and slip out the shell. (I am sure we could eat this, but in the interest of education we took them out to examine.)
Show your amazing gutted slug to Pappa:

Rinse slugs again, cut into bite-sized pieces, and bread. We used eggs, and cornflour with a bit of salt, cumin, savoury, and garlic mixed in. We breaded halved green cherry tomatoes in the same way.
Deep-fry, until nice and brown!


They were like a cross between chicken and calamari. A bit like escargot, although I've never experienced deep-fried escargot, so I can't say, exactly! Certainly they were delicious, and the combination with green tomatoes was lovely!
Tim Pearce, Asst Curator and Head, section of Mollusks, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, provided crucial information to our pre-hunting research, via his comments on the Shell-Collecting Tribe: Tim advises removing the digestive gland before eating, cooking the slugs to kill any potential parasites, and soaking them in 1/2 vinegar, 1/2 water, to kill and remove slime. He also suggests changing the water repeatedly during boiling, to get rid of slime.

The Urban Pantheist also provides interesting information on banana slugs. The Latin name for our prey is Ariolimax columbianus.

A Note on Conservation:
The E-Fauna BC website lists Pacific Banana slugs as yellow-listed, which is very well indeed for our harvesting of them, but I do wonder if they might be threatened by other species, here. When I was young I remember lots of large banana slugs, and what we called "Army Slugs" (black-spotted banana slugs), and a similarly large amount of black Arion slugs. Now it seems the banana slugs are fewer, while we have an enormous increase in the number of red Arion slugs in the garden (in fact, I don't remember ever seeing them, as a child). This is just passing observation, but unfortunate if it's true that the introduced Arion slugs are pushing out our native mollusks. For this reason we won't be harvesting large quantities of banana slugs, and I intend to research whether or not Arion Rufus might cause tongue-numbness, as does the black Arion variety. If it turns out to be highly edible, we will certainly harvest them, instead!


  1. Thanks! I'm not sure I'll ever practically need this information, but it's terribly fascinating. I don't know that I'd ever have the courage to forage (I have always lived in large cities where this is not really a safe option).

  2. AnonymousJune 03, 2011

    I wonder how the experiment has progressed? Is Arion Rufus edible or possibly even delicious?

    Thanks for the interesting story!

  3. We discovered that the invasive dusky arions are not only delicious but also invasive -- here's the recipe we invented:

    The only downside to these is that each slug is about 1/2 bite, once cooked. Lots of harvesting, in other words!

  4. You should purge them first for several days to remove any toxins from their bodies.

  5. It would be more humane to put them in the refrigerator for a while before killing them. That numbs them. Then make sure the vinegar-water mixture is boiling. When they're thrown in, they're dead before they recognize it. I learnt this from Gordon Ramsey.

  6. I have just deleted all of the acrimonious posts debating veganism. This is a post about eating slugs. While I think that dietary choices are an interesting subject, this is not the place for vitriolic attack regarding those issues. From now on I will not publish any such comments.
    Please keep your comments on the topic of eating/growing/cooking slugs. Thanks for reading!

  7. Yuk! Sorry, but yuk! I found my way here by wondering if slugs were edible. I'm glad you enjoy them :)

  8. AnonymousMay 19, 2014

    Fascinating. There IS something I haven't tried. Never thought of slugs having tried literally hundreds of other creatures from huge to medium to small to tiny.

  9. Actually, after preparing snails myself, I learned that it is ineffective trying to remove the slime from the creature when it is alive. That will simply trigger more mucus production and it will lower the quality of the meat. That's what many experienced heliciculturists say, and that commercial outfits have abandoned the procedure. So I'd just skip straight to the boiling next time.

    1. for the sliminess my mom use to put them over night in flour overnight that used to do the trick , make sure to have them in enough flour.

    2. Not sure. To me, it sounds like all it will do is suffocate in the flour, but while dying exhume a lot of mucus. Unless you mean after they are cooked.

  10. Either that, or just slice their head in half to kill them.

  11. Just watch out handling snails/slugs.
    There is a parasite nematode/fluke that can be transmitted directly to humans via contact.
    results in brain swelling

    1. If you're talking about Angiostrongylus cantonensis, they will be killed if they are boiled for around 5 minutes.

  12. So leopard slugs are edible? I have dozens of them, very long specimens in my garden. The largest ones are now in the box. They ate most of my vegetables, I'm vegetarian. So, I want to eat all of them, getting my revenge. It's 3rd day I feed them with remains of those vegetables, they fart and shit a lot.

    1. hahah, go for them! I can understand you, they exterminated my Persil and Lettuce!

    2. You can put crushed egg shells in your garden to protect your plants from slugs. The sharp edges cut them and they don't like it.

      There are also videos on youtube which shows you how to build an electric fence using a 9 volt battery to protect your garden.

  13. I'm always interested in learning which foods I can survive on. Good info. great recipe. Wonder if they're any more slimy than okra. C

  14. Really, very interesting, and specially how to treat this subject with the sweet kids around! it looks like real normal, as eating seafood.. Anyway, I have not the courage to try it... maybe some day! :) thanks for sharing all this information!

  15. AnonymousJuly 26, 2015

    Live slugs and Ice Cream give the kids a moving feast

  16. There was one person in Montreal who experimented with large invasive slugs. He used the method used for escargot.

    Fed them a leaf of lettuce for a day to eliminate the sand inside, then starved them for 8 days, he salted them to eliminate the slime. Once the slime was eliminated, he followed traditionnal french recipe for escargot.