Sunday, June 1, 2014

Boiled Periwinkles (great snack for 1 or more)

I grew up eating periwinkles.  My family and I used to gather them when we went fishing along coastal Maine.  Once in a while my husband and I would harvest them along our coast in New Hampshire. These snails are tiny but the meat is very sweet and tasty.  I actually prefer eating smaller ones than larger ones. Sometimes the larger snails can look a bit scary even to me because everything about them is visible to the eyes especially their huge antennae!  :D

While shopping at my local market here in New Hampshire a few weeks ago I noticed for the first time the store actually carried periwinkles in 2-3 pound bags.  While I was inspecting the bags closely a man beside me informed me they are very good.  I responded yes and wondered out loud where these came from.  He said, "probably down the coast a few miles away, the same place where I get mine!" I looked at him and said "that's where I get mine too!"  I guess we both were a little surprised because I don't think he has met anyone who harvests them as well.  Before he left he laughed and said, "I will see you at the coast!"

There are many ways to cook snails.  Here is the quickest and simplest method; just add the periwinkles to boiling water for 5 minutes and then remove them from their shells with a toothpick. You can eat them plain or with your favorite dipping sauce.  I like to boil my periwinkles with some seaweed and then use them as a garnish later.  In Vietnam some of my relatives sometimes use guava leaves to boil the snails for a hint of fragrance.  Sometimes I add smashed lemongrass to the pot for the same reason.

Boiled Periwinkles


Periwinkles (however many you manage to harvest and can eat)
Water (use just enough to cover the periwinkles)
A pot or pan


1) Wash the periwinkles well in cold water, let them soak 2-3 hours or best overnight to further clean them.
2) Rinse them well in cold water 4-5 times.
3) Heat water in a pot or pan.  Once the water is boiling add the periwinkles.  Let them boil for 5 minutes. Turn off heat, drain, and let them cool a little before handling them.  Use a toothpick to remove the snails from the shells.  The body should remove easily once cooked.

*If you harvest your own periwinkles be sure to pick them in clean water.  It is best to gather them at low tide.  Please only pick what you can eat and avoid damaging the sea vegetation.

Simple Lemon-Salt-Pepper Dipping Sauce


2 tsps lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper (black or white)


Mix all ingredients and use for dipping.  May add more or less of these ingredients depending on your preference.

-if you are going to harvest seaweed please remember
to clip them so they can grow back
-once cooked these plants will turn bright green

coastal NH,
-a great place for
fresh sea breeze, to meditate, walk, bike
or harvest periwinkles


  1. What beach do you go to, to pick these up? Thanks!

  2. Hi Linda,
    Thanks for visiting my blog.
    I gathered these periwinkles or winkles on the rocks at low tide along New Hampshire coast. Be careful since the rocks and seaweed can be very slippery.
    Good luck!