Can You Eat Canned Escargot Straight Out Of The Tin?

The idea of eating what is considered haute cuisine out of a can might sound counterintuitive, but escargot does, in fact, come in tinned form. Big win for the Venn diagram overlap between snail eaters and canned food enthusiasts. But are they safe to eat straight out of the can?

The short answer is yes. In fact, all canned food is safe to eat straight away — despite what canned food myths may say otherwise. This is due to the fact that, during the canning process, every item is cooked to its required level. This process not only cooks the food to a safe level but also obliterates any bacteria present in the food, where it remains safe inside an airtight seal.

When it comes to escargot, typically made using land snails, this is particularly good news. Undercooked snails or slugs can carry a rare parasitic worm called Angiostrongylus cantonensis. If you're not a fan of tongue twisters, it's also known as the rat lungworm. This parasite is not typically dangerous — although it can cause eosinophilic meningitis in very rare cases — and goes away by itself, but it's not exactly pleasant. Symptoms include nausea, fever, tingling, and pain, all of which are generally best avoided.

In terms of longevity, escargots last between two and three days in the fridge once opened. If you notice a foul smell or signs of botulism on the can (swelling and leaking), don't take the risk — throw the can out.

How should you serve your canned escargot?

Although you can technically eat these little morsels straight out of the can, that doesn't mean you should attack it with a fork the second you break the seal. On their own, escargots taste similar to salty mushrooms, but the French, who tend to know better than the rest of us, are partial to infusing their snails with garlic, butter, thyme, and parsley. If you've ever had mushrooms cooked in garlic butter, you'll know that the French have the right idea.

However, despite the stereotype, snails are not only eaten in France. In Italy and Greece, for example, they can be used as a pasta topping. During the summer months in Portugal, locals flock to sample caracóis, snails served in a broth flavored with olive oil, garlic, oregano, and piri piri spice.

If you want to try this bucket-list appetizer without having to think too hard about the fact that you're eating snails, you could always throw them into a stew or bake them into a pie. That way you can sample the texture and taste without having to scrutinize what's on your fork too heavily.