A photo to mull over

bobpbx

Piney
Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
14,190
4,291
Pines; Bamber area
Lot of old homestead signs in Cape May County. This one surprised me with the unusual conch-like or whelk-like shells. I see clam shells dumped all the time, but never saw this. This was likely pre-1950. Do you think it was more common to eat them at that time? Maybe a restaurant dump?

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RednekF350

Piney
Feb 20, 2004
4,950
3,095
Pestletown, N.J.
My buddy Vinny, who taught me how to make wine, also taught me how to find whelks on the ocean beaches around Stone Harbor and Cape May and how to make delicious scungilli with them. He could make dogs*it taste good if you gave him a little garlic and olive oil. :) Scungilli is very popular in Italian cooking.

Dottie and I and Vinny and his wife would comb the beach looking for a wisp of thin, grass laying flat on the wet sand near the wash line. There we would find the whelks, We would haul 4 or 5 wine buckets of them back to our trailer and we would make up a mess of scungilli. To make it, we would boil the whelks live for about a half-hour in big pots and then extract the body. There is a thin, bony plate on the foot called the operculum which is the "door" that keeps the whelk safe. You cut that off and throw it away, along with the guts. You are left with a large muscle that you slice thinly. Then we would lightly sauté' everything in olive oil and butter seasoned with garlic and a little basil or oregano. It was delirious eaten just like that or chilled and worked into a big Italian salad. Nothing like it!

There are still some commercial conch fishing in the Cape May and Delaware area but they fish the open ocean with conch pots. One is located near where I keep my boat in CM.

Here is a good video of some DE whelkers.

And info on the conchs/whelks in general. It is a very healthy food loaded with protein.
 

RednekF350

Piney
Feb 20, 2004
4,950
3,095
Pestletown, N.J.
Bob, there was a commercial processing plant near Burleigh where you I believe you are working. It was a LaMonica plant and it was just demo'd this summer. It was closed for years. The brand is still out there.
 

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bobpbx

Piney
Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
14,190
4,291
Pines; Bamber area
Bob, there was a commercial processing plant near Burleigh where you I believe you are working. It was a LaMonica plant and it was just demo'd this summer. It was closed for years. The brand is still out there.
Thanks Scott, I checked out your links. All interesting stuff. Yeah, I was near Green Creek and Delsea Creek. This survey will take years to do. Long ride, but worth it.
 
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c1nj

Explorer
Nov 19, 2008
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I think you will enjoy working in that area. It's where the southern forests and the pinelands overlap.
 

bobpbx

Piney
Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
14,190
4,291
Pines; Bamber area
I think you will enjoy working in that area. It's where the southern forests and the pinelands overlap.
Yes, and one other important thing, which I put in my application for a permit from Cape May Wildlife Refuge. Since it's a fly way, seeds are carried by birds, so it's in the vanguard for species moving north. I also told them I'll be looking for rare species on their property.
 

c1nj

Explorer
Nov 19, 2008
272
169
Let me know if you find a Pond Pine. I went looking for one once for a Scottish scientist.
You will see some odd looking pine trees in that area. I was told it's the results of natural hybridization between northern and southern pine species.
 
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bobpbx

Piney
Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
14,190
4,291
Pines; Bamber area
It's funny. I grew up in the pine barrens mostly. Now I have a hard time "seeing" a different pine other than pitch or white pine. I was with Dave Snyder, the chief botanist for the state, and he pointed out a loblolly that I simply walked by on a trail a few weeks ago. Two weeks later I found a spot with 50 plus loblolly.

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