Can we eat periwinkles collected in the rocks?


Look for shells in the rocks, put them proudly in his bucket … the walk fishing remains a delight for young and old. The periwinkle is one of the tasty discoveries offered by the sea. Where to find it? How to pick it up? Can we eat it without risk ? Our answers to make your periwinkle picking a success.

What is shore fishing?

Shore fishing is an activity practiced at low tide on theforeshore, this part of the coast which is covered and discovered according to the tides. As it retreats, the sea leaves behind a large quantity of shellfish buried under the sand or hidden in the rocks and which can then be picked up without using a boat. When she is professional, shore fishing is practiced “without the fisherman ceasing to have support on the ground and without respiratory equipment allowing him to remain submerged. ”

How to recognize a periwinkle?

Marine cousin ofsnail, the periwinkle has a rounded shell, with a circular opening which closes in the event of a threat thanks to a horny operculum. Its shell conical at the pointed end has a rather uniform appearance, to the color dark (black or dark gray). A few fine regular stripes follow its shape in spiral. The size of the periwinkle varies from 1 to 2 cm. Be careful not to confuse it with other species (rocky littorine, blue or obtuse) which are more colorful (green, yellow or whitish) and inedible.

Where to find the periwinkle?

The periwinkle lives in the ocean Atlantic, the English Channel, the North Sea, the Baltic and the Mediterranean at a depth of 0 to 60 meters. The gastropod is found at all levels of the foreshore and therefore does not require high tides to be found. It lives in large colonies on the rocks covered withalgae but also in gravel pits, sand or eelgrass which are marine aquatic plants.

Periwinkle fishing: are there no-go zones?

Before venturing out to the seaside, be aware that national provisions forbid shore fishing in various places:

  • The ports fishing and trade (for all species);
  • Cantonments or reserve areas (for a selection of species);
  • The concessions of marine cultures and their perimeter (15 m);
  • Shellfish farms and their proximity (15 m);
  • Some reservations or national parks.

Is it risky to pick up periwinkles on the rocks?

When you have selected a place to fish for periwinkles, it is useful to consult the health notices in town hall, prefecture, by the sea or on the Ifremer website. Different reasons can prohibit the collection of shellfish in specific areas: development of phytoplankton toxic, point microbiological contamination, epidemic reported in a population of on-foot fishermen … In addition to health reasons, municipal decrees may temporarily prohibit access to certain areas to protect the sea. resource. Following abuse (exaggerated quantities of catches), the number of checks has clearly intensified on the shore fishing grounds. These checks are carried out by the gendarmerie maritime or by sworn members of associations for the defense of the foreshore.

How to properly pick the periwinkle?

Shore fishing must be carried out in the respect of the natural environment and in the absence of degradation of the foreshore (a deliberate and significant alteration constitutes an offense). Periwinkle picking is usually done on rocks covered withalgae green or brown and under the pebbles partially submerged. There is thus two methods to collect periwinkles:

  • Under the seaweed. Gently lift the plant to gently fold it to the side. Above all, do not tear them off. Underneath, sometimes hide a few gastropods clinging to the rock or to the algae themselves. Check whether specimens have fallen to the ground;
  • Under the pebbles. When seeking shelter, periwinkles have two needs: space to crawl in and a small amount of water. When you observe these two criteria, lift the stone, take the gastropods of medium or large size and replace gently the pebble into place. While fishing, remember to wash and refresh the seashells in seawater.

What precautions should you take after fishing for periwinkles?

When you are back home with your bucket of periwinkles, it is advisable to:

  • Wash the shells under a tap of water, to brush them well;
  • Do them disgorging to remove residues (sand, mud, etc.);
  • Consume them very quickly, the same day preferably;
  • Share them with family or friends (the sale of caught products is strictly prohibited);

Note that the consumption of shellfish gleaned during a shore fishing is not recommended for certain people such as pregnant women and young children.

How to eat periwinkles?

Containing many trace elements including a large amount of magnesium, periwinkle is good for health. Soft, slightly iodized and revealing a subtle sea taste, the gastropod is easy to prepare. First you just have to rinse carefully the shells and then place them in a large saucepan. Then cover them with cold water and salty (30 g of salt per liter of water). Add ground pepper. Bring to a boil over low heat, stirring. At the first broths, remove the saucepan from the heat and cover it. Let cool for 5 minutes and drain the winkles. You can taste them lukewarm or pass them under cold water to prevent them from hardening. Serve them with a slice of bread with Butter dirty.

Photo credit: Guttorm Flatabø