Can you eat barnacles?

In this article we are going to answer whether you can eat barnacles, what are barnacles, what is Percebes, whether barnacles are healthy to eat, is there a risk of eating barnacles and how can you add them to your diet. 

Can you eat barnacles?

Yes, barnacles are safe to eat. Even if they are considered the pest of the seas, barnacles are exquisite seafood that can be eaten in many ways. Barnacles are especially famous in Spain and Portugal. The edible species is known as gooseneck barnacle. 

What are barnacles?

Barnacles or Balanus Glandula are sticky creatures that are closely related to lobsters, crabs, and shrimps. They are exclusive marine creatures and the most common barnacles are Acorn barnacles. They usually live in parts of the sea that are very active such as underwater volcanoes and intertidal zones where they can stick to rocks, boats, and anything they can.

Barnacles stuck to other objects by secreting a special cement that is a very powerful glue. Barnacles can even stick to whales, turtles, or any moving objects which is why they are known as sea pests. 

Barnacles have become a huge problem for boats because they can make the boats weigh more than 40% of their weight and make them use more than 60% of the fuel they would have normally used. 

Also, some barnacles have been eaten, especially goose barnacles. They are very famous in Japan, Spain, and Portugal. The flesh is the edible part and it is considered a delicacy in those countries. 

Picoroco barnacle is most commonly used in Chile. 

What is Percebes?

Percebes are goose barnacles in Spain and in Portugal. They are considered an expensive delicacy in these countries. You can pay up to 200 euros for a kilo of Percebes. Percebes are specially harvested in Galicia. 

Percebes are usually steamed with salt water, the skin is removed to reveal the flesh. The most common dish that includes Percebes is made with only olive oil and maybe some herbs. 

Are barnacles healthy to eat?

Yes, goose barnacles or Percebes are considered healthy to eat. 100 grams of goose barnacles can contain about 66 calories, 16 grams of protein, 0 grams of carbohydrates, and 0.5 grams of fats. 

They are pure proteins with a very high amount of iodine, vitamin B12, and some essential amino acids. They also contain some minerals such as potassium, selenium, magnesium, calcium, and iron. 

Barnacles have been linked to help with thyroid gland health and promote a healthy immune system.

Is there a risk of eating barnacles?

Barnacles are a common allergen because they are part of the crustacean shellfish. Food allergies can be severe, some symptoms you might have if you are allergic to barnacles and eat them include

  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Indigestion
  • Diarrhea
  • Wheezing
  • Swelling of face, mouth, and tongue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Cough
  • Hoarse voice
  • Blue coloring skin
  • Hives
  • Dizziness and confusion

Goose barnacles are not poisonous but there is a species of ancient barnacle that has amounts of a toxic chemical that can be very dangerous to eat. 

How can you add them to your diet?

Barnacles or Percebes are very easy to cook, you dont need too much to enjoy them. Here are the instructions on how to cook barnacles

  • First, buy barnacles and make sure they are in a good condition
  • Put water to boil. For one kilogram of barnacles, bring to boil 4 liters of water with 240 grams of salt. 
  • Once the water is boiling, add some bay leaves and the barnacles. 
  • Once the water boils again, remove the barnacles, and then they are ready to eat

Barnacles are better eaten as they are, do not add too many ingredients such as lemon or garlic because they won’t be as good. You can add just some olive oil and they will be perfect.  

Once cooked, is best to eat all barnacles because when stored in the refrigerator they can lose some flavor. 

Follow this link for a video on how to harvest and cook gooseneck barnacles.


This article answered whether you can eat barnacles, what are barnacles, what is Percebes, whether barnacles are healthy to eat, is there a risk of eating barnacles and how can you add them to your diet. 



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