The snails are inching toward the finish line. After four years, Taylor Knapp’s Cutchogue snail ranch, Peconic Escargot, should be selling its first “harvest” this summer.
The 10,000 snails live in what Knapp calls a “snail high rise,” a 10-by-30-foot greenhouse comprising stacks of soil-filled shelves. It takes six to eight months for them to achieve maturity, at which point they are driven to the Stony Brook Business Incubator in Calverton to be processed: shelled and vacuum packed.
Virtually all snails consumed in the United States are canned or frozen or, in very few cases, foraged from the wild. Knapp said that there are a handful of snail farms on the West Coast, but that his is the only one in New York State.
Knapp, the founding chef at First and South in Greenport, currently operates a weekly Greenport pop-up restaurant, PAWPAW, that focuses on hyperlocal ingredients. He’s begun experimenting with his snails, serving a snail-mushroom tart at a recent dinner.
Once all the final permits are in place, Peconic Escargot will begin selling direct to restaurants on Long Island and in New York City, and, via peconicescargot.com, to home cooks nationwide.