OMG … EATING BUGS!

By Aletheia Price

How to Prepare Insects for Cooking Those who are accustomed to eating animals probably know that most animals must be killed, cleaned, and cooked before one can eat them. The case is similar with insects. While there are many people in other countries who prefer to eat insects live and raw, and while it is true that you could probably get the most nutrients that way, I prefer food that won’t crawl off my plate. I have tried eating live ants and mealworms, and in fact present a “recipe” for live insect consumption below; however, I would advise that beginning insect eaters start with cooked insects.

SO … ANYBODY SOME RECIPES?

To prepare a batch of crickets or mealworms:

Take the desired quantity of live insects, rinse them off and then pat them dry. This procedure is easy to do with mealworms, but fairly hard to do with crickets. To do so with crickets, pour them all into a colander and cover it quickly with a piece of wire screening or cheesecloth. Rinse them, then dry them by shaking the colander until all the water drains. Then put the crickets or mealworms in a plastic bag and put them in the freezer until they are dead but not frozen.

Fifteen minutes or so should be sufficient. Then take them out and rinse them again. You don’t really have to clean mealworms, though if you want, you can chop off their heads. Cricket’s heads, hind legs, and wing cases can be removed according to personal preference; I like doing so, since cricket legs tend to get stuck in your teeth. You are now ready to use the insects in all kinds of culinary treats!

… or how about some Mealworm Chocolate Chip Cookies ?

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup mealworm flour

Cream butter well, then mix in sugar, egg, vanilla flour, salt, baking soda, chocolate chips, oats, and mealworm flour. Drop batter by the teaspoonful on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees farenheit. This recipe doesn’t have much in the way of palpable insect content, but is an excellent way to introduce others (or yourself!) to entomophagy. Even many rather squeamish people will try mealworm cookies, since the cookie format doesn’t look “gross” to most people, and since it is rather difficult to actually taste the mealworms, though they enrich the cookie with a somewhat nutty flavor and extra protein.

To make insect flour:

Spread your cleaned insects out on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Set your oven 200 degrees and dry insects for approximately 1-3 hours. When the insects are done, they should be fairly brittle and crush easily. Take your dried insects and put them into a blender or coffee grinder, and grind them till they are about consistency of wheat germ. Use in practically any recipe! Try sprinkling insect flour on salads, add it to soups, your favorite bread recipe, on a boat, with a goat, etc.

Anyone Chocolate Covered Crickets?

25 adult crickets
Several squares of semisweet chocolate

Prepare the crickets as described above. Bake at 250 degrees until crunchy (the time needed varies from oven to oven). Heat the squares of semi sweet chocolate in a double boiler until melted. Dip the dry roasted crickets in the melted chocolate one by one, and then set the chocolate covered crickets out to dry on a piece of wax paper. Enjoy! This is a little time consuming to make, but definitely worth it…the crickets are deliciously crunchy!

Ant Brood Tacos

2 tablespoons butter or peanut oil? 1/2 pound ant larvae and pupae 3 serrano chilies, raw, finely chopped 1 tomato, finely chopped Pepper and Cumin, to taste Oregano, to taste 1 handful cilantro, chopped Taco shells, to serve

Heat the butter or oil in a frying pan and fry the larvae or pupae. Add the chopped onions, chilies, and tomato, and season with salt. Sprinkle with ground pepper, cumin, and oregano, to taste. Serve in tacos and garnish with cilantro. (Not living in an area exceptionally prolific with ants, I have never been able to try this recipe. But it sounds perfectly delicious! I found it in ‘Creepy Crawly Cuisine’, an excellent recipe book.)

“Natural Style” (YIIIIKES!!!)

As many mealworms as you can sanely eat. Open mouth. Insert live mealworms. Chew. Swallow.
You can eat almost every kind of edible insect raw; however, this method of eating insects should only be performed on insects that you keep yourself or know are free from pesticides. Do not snag passing cockroaches, ants, or termites in an urban area unless you have developed a natural immunity to pesticides. And don’t forget to wash your insects before eating them!

.. or maybe raising crickets – for future delicacies?

Crickets are quite easy to raise and prepare, and the main problem is making sure that they don’t escape. Crickets can be kept in any fairly large container with high sides and a tight fitting lid. An aquarium is a good choice. Put a couple inches of potting soil on the bottom of the container.

This will be where the crickets deposit their eggs. Put several egg cartons in the aquarium for the crickets to roost on. Then, place a small container of grains and vegetable scraps in for food, and a container of moist cotton balls for water. Add 50-100 crickets. Mist the potting soil lightly every few days, and make sure that the crickets always have fresh food. You can probably start harvesting the crickets within a few months.

Crickets are escape artists!!! It is a good idea to put a rock on top of the lid to ensure that you don’t accidentally knock it off. It is also a good idea to float the container in a tub of soapy water. Unlike mealworms, it is almost impossible to recapture crickets once they escape, and crickets may start infesting your house if they get out while you’re on vacation (don’t panic, though… they rarely cause any real damage to food or furnishings). I would really recommend that you start with mealworms if you are new to insect raising.

If your stomach didn’t turn around yet – read the whole article!
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