On thing I wanted to work on this year was finding a sustainable protein source for our family. Since we live in an apartment, I’ve been seriously thinking about bugs. Insects are inexpensive to raise, prolific, and don’t require much space. However, they are bugs. They have a reputation. And we weren’t sure we’d like them.I spent time pricing bugs and doing my research. It dawned on me that my best solution was to just purchase them from our local pet store. That store carries crickets in three sizes and mealworms. Our total expense was $7 for 2 dozen crickets and a container of mealworms. This is not a sustainable price but cheaper than buying them to experiment with.
The insects come alive (and fresh). To kill the insects for eating, freeze for atleast an hour. Since we were unsure of how long we really needed, we opted to freeze them overnight. My husband said that freezing the crickets was hard on him because he could see them. I was a little worried that once thawed they might revive (they did not).
The crickets did not require cleaning but the mealworms come in something that looks like oats and had to be separated from the waste. This is what they looked like once cleaned. We paid for 50 mealworms but got over 60.
To prep them for cooking, bring a pot of salt water to a boil. I think I didn’t add enough salt because I couldn’t taste any. The salt water cleans the insects and kills any parasites or microbes that might come with your meal. Now, before you freak out – all meat has a certain amount of parasites and microbes. This is just a fact of life. Since these bugs are grown in a control environment, they may be parasite free but I want to get in the habit of boiling my insects before cooking. This also removes extra hair and bits – not all but enough to make me feel like I was cooking something clean.
Because I’m kind of making this up as I go along, I didn’t know how long to boil the crickets and mealworms. I boiled one first and removed it before adding the next one but I didn’t think I had boiled them long enough so I returned them all to the pot and boiled for two minutes. All in all, I think they boiled for about 3 minutes.
From there, I heated a skillet with some organic butter (this is important – organic butter is awesome). Then I tossed in the bugs. To give them a little flavor, I added some sweet curry powder.
Because the insects are par-boiled, I didn’t have to worry about cooking them long enough. But I wasn’t sure how we would like them. So I cooked them for three different times. On the plate below, you see three piles – each one was cooked longer than the last. I started with a barely crispy and cooked to a good and crispy. This was to help us decide how long we preferred the cooking time.
What did we learn – well we loved them. The only off-putting part was the long cricket legs, they are not easy to chew. Aside from that, we ate them all. We liked all the cooking times. The more crispy, the more like junk food they were. For being so small, the insects had a meaty taste. My husband said the crickets tasted like a snack but the mealworms tasted like meat.
All that was left was a small pile of cricket legs and we debated eating those when it was all said and done. The insects weren’t weird at all once we got over the initial feeling. We’ll be making them again and looking towards developing our own habitats to grow our own.
I hope this inspires you to try a new protein source. Research says that insects are the meat of the future. Pound for pound they are the most environmentally and financially sound. And they taste very good.