Introduction: Insects for Food-Prep. 101

Picture of Insects for Food-Prep. 101

Many peoples around the world eat insects without batting a lash, gagging or thinking of childhood dares.They eat insects as snacks or main dishes as an abundant source of protein, healthy fats and minerals. Another plus is raising and harvesting insects for human consumption requires much fewer resources than livestock and releases much less greenhouse gases. There are more than 1,900 edible insects on Earth but I will be focusing on three easily accessible ones in this Instructable. This technique works well with many insects though. This Instructable is designed to show you the very first step in preparing insects to get them cleaned and cooked. How you prepare them after is completely up to your creative self.


Step 1: Basic Starting Point

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With live insects, it is best to put them in the refrigerator for at least an hour or until you are ready to use them. This will immobilize them by slowing their metabolism. This helps in the collecting and cleaning process. If you prefer, you can place them in the freezer for an hour which will kill them and then you can proceed without fear of reanimation.

I like to make stocks. Stocks of any kind, to infuse or to use for soups. You can use plain salted unflavored water if you like but why not give them a little extra flavor. Depending on what you are using them for, sweet or savory stocks.

In these examples, I used a mushroom stock, a persimmon- Keffir lime leaf and orange zest stock and a basic salted water bath.
After cleaning your insects, which i will show you how to do in the following pages you will put your insects in the boiling water or stock for one to two minutes.

Crickets - 2 minutes
Mealworms- 1 minute
Waxworms- 1 minute

Step 2: Crickets

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I placed the crickets in the freezer for an hour because i didn't want to take the chance of any escape artists.
I picked them out of their container being sure to leave any squished ones behind.
I cleaned them by rinsing them under cool water.
Once the salted water came to a boil, I set my timer for 2 minutes and put the crickets in the boiling water.

Step 3: Drying Crickets

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After 2 minutes, I drained them, put them in a bowl and quickly put them in the fridge to coo, about 15 minutesl.
When the crickets were cooled i placed them on a dehydrator sheet on top of the tray and dehydrated them until they were fully dry but not crunchy.
Store in a mason jar until ready to use

Step 4: Mealworms

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Mealworms are the larvae from the mealworm beetle. They have a very earthy flavor.

Mealworms generally come in a bag with newspaper in it for them to crawl around in.
Empty them into a deep bowl, something they can't crawl up and out of and remove them from the newspaper.

Step 5: Cleaning Mealworms

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I like cleaning these guys while they are still alive and a little slow from the fridge.
You will find that there will be plenty of shed skin and a few dead worms.
It is easy to find the dead ones because they are generally darker in color.
Cleaning. A trick that I found that is a huge help is blowing.
Go outside where you can make a bit of a mess.
Put a handful in a shallow bowl and blow. You will blow all their shed skin away.
After all the dead and shed skin are separated, give them a nice rinse and stick them in the fridge or freezer for an hour.

Step 6: Cooking Mealworms

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For this batch of Mealworms, I used a mushroom stock.
I used mushroom stems and salt and simmered for 2 hours. Again, this is a preference thing and is not necessary. You can use boiling salted water.

I set my timer for 1 minute and put the mealworms in boiling stock for 1 minute then drained them but do not rinse them, put them in a bowl and into the fridge until they cooled, about 15 minutes.

Step 7: Drying Mealworms

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When cooled i put them into the dehydrator until dried but not crispy.
When dried I let them cool and put them in a vacuum sealed bag and into the fridge for a future recipe.
If you are planning to roast them you can skip the dehydrator and stick them directly onto a baking sheet and into the oven.
Set the temperature to 200 degrees F for 2 hours or until desired crispiness

Step 8: Waxworms

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Waxworms are the Caterpillar larvae of the wax moth. They have a very neutral flavor and take on what you cook them with. Perfect for infused water.

They are pretty easy to clean. They arrived in sawdust so I took a large strainer and sifted.
Some of them squeezed through but it was a pretty painless process of cleaning.
Pick out any black dead ones or ones that look like they are on their way out.
Give them a nice rinse and put them back in the fridge for an hour.

Step 9: Cooking Waxworms

Picture of  Cooking Waxworms

I chose a persimmon- Keffir lime leaf and orange zest stock for this one.
I cooked the persimmon and orange zest separately from the Keffir leaf so I could add in the desired amount of Keffir stock. (totally a preference thing)
Strain stock and bring back to a boil.

Step 10:

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Ok, were ready to cook them.
Set your timer for 1 minute and go.
Pull them out of the refrigerator or freezer and pour them into the boiling stock.
Cook them for one minute, drain them but do not rinse.
Put them in a plate or bowl and put them in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to cool.

Step 11: Storing

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When cooled, stick them in the dehydrator on a dehydrator sheet until dried but not crispy.
Pull them out, let cool before storing.
If you have it, I recommend a vacuum sealer. If you don't a ziplock bag will work. Try to remove most of the air from it
Store in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to use.


Bootyeater made it! (author)2017-04-03


Bootyeater (author)2017-04-03

Very nice to stick up my-... nevermind

rookie1 (author)2015-09-25

I have a friend who used to own a pet shop, until she retired. She had lizards and other meat eating creatures.Birds love them. She filled a large bucket half full of sand and placed cut up potatoes cut side down and it didn't take long before the meal worms (or maybe they were potato worms came out). She sold them, as well along with crickets. I'm just saying, you can grow your own worms with little trouble.

abottoms (author)2015-08-10

i boiled then fried some mealworms in butter... not much left when fried but it ends up tasting like popcorn

holymoses (author)2015-07-21

The future of human nutrition will depend on insects and the less vertebrates get killed for it the better it is!

Go on publishing it!


Guapi (author)2014-02-02

Having traveled the Far East extensively I have personally eaten and enjoyed many species of insects and worms which are commonly sold in street stalls, night markets, and in some restaurants. Fried crickets are particularly edible and are good accompaniment to sticky rice and as beer snack. I truly hope more people in the West get over the yuk factor and help make this mainstream. Thank you rimamonsta for "tastefully" making this instructable.

rimamonsta (author)Guapi2014-02-08

Thank you for the comment. I really appreciate the feedback. I, unfortunately have not yet traveled the far east but intend to one day. It's funny, I actually had the yuk factor too and that is one of the reasons I started experimenting... to get over it.

MrFrancis (author)2014-02-07

Thanks for posting this info. Being that the bugs are low on the food chain means less chance of contamination. I have been all over Asia and resisted due to my own gross factor. You are right about preparedness.

cfs0527 (author)2014-02-01

Intriguing... I'm not too sure I can get over the yuck factor but I have inadvertently eaten my share of bugs on long summer bicycle rides

lbrewer42 (author)2014-01-29

BTW - I have seen where some crickets have tapeworms - seriously. I have seen some stepped on and a long white worm comes out - amazingly long. I guess they are tapeworms. This really adds to the ick factor when i think about eating them. I know if I was starving it would likely mean nothing though.

Asa J (author)lbrewer422014-01-31

Probably not a literal tapeworm

In popular science they just had a short blurb about parasitic nematodes living in ants. Super creepy. Then again (I'm googling it....... still googling......) trichinella that lives in bacon is also a nematode. We forgive bacon it's nasty parasitic little secret, why not insects? Heck, wrap the bugs in bacon and it should be all good!

rimamonsta (author)lbrewer422014-01-30

Yup, that is YUK for sure, especially cause you need to cook meat with tapeworms very well to kill them and cooking a cricket is quick. Thanks for that information. I did not know that was a thing. I'll have to look into that.

lbrewer42 (author)rimamonsta2014-01-30

I found a Youtube video of exactly what I am talking about:


Now of course if it was cooked long enough it probably would just mean more protein - the parasite become the prey LOL!

kracken42 (author)2014-01-31

Yum! Looks great!

RedKnight57 (author)2014-01-31

Haven't tried these worms yet, but have had roasted crickets with lime & chili,, while drinking beer. Pretty tasty, have had roasted grasshoppers, we just speared them and roasted them over coals. have also had them roasted in an oven until crisp, then dipped in honey. They had a mild corn nut taste to them.. Good job on the instructable.

rimamonsta (author)2014-01-30

my pleasure. heehee...

Branebot (author)2014-01-28

Love this idea and would love to try this...

Keep up the great work!

rimamonsta (author)Branebot2014-01-30

Thank you


Eromanga (author)2014-01-28

Cool instructable - thanks.

rimamonsta (author)Eromanga2014-01-30

Thank you

mdeblasi1 (author)2014-01-28

I think my bug eating will begin and end with shrimp & crawdads.
And lobster

definitely lobster.

rimamonsta (author)mdeblasi12014-01-30

mmmm lobster. so yummy.

bbudd (author)2014-01-28

Actually the mealworms are much better fried in olive oil with a little garlic and salt .

Here in Thailand eat insects quite often. Most are quite tasty.

rimamonsta (author)bbudd2014-01-30

mealworms are pretty yummy. I haven't tried them fried yet because I'm trying to stay away from the fried insect thing. But I did just make a mealworm Fench bread (gluten free) that came out pretty darn delicious. And honestly, baked mealworms are really good snacks. thanks for the input. Maybe i'll try a garlic dish next. thanks. -r

Alienjones (author)2014-01-28

I've always believed that you'll eat anything if you are hungry enough. Somehow I don't think that applies to me but you never know until you are put to the test. all I can do is hope I never am!

rimamonsta (author)Alienjones2014-01-30

True, and I have a feeling if you were hungry enough you might try to eat wet leather. Just saying. But baked bugs are better than wet leather. I promise. Kinda nutty. Kinda mushroomy like. thanks for the comment. -r

jayb1 (author)2014-01-28

During World War 2 the sick prisoners In Changi (Singapore) were nursed back to health by eating Cockroaches. The juice was squeezed out of them (the white stuff) & spoon fed to the sick & dying. Pure protein. There are many, many men alive today because of an Australian Doctors common sense & knowledge.

rimamonsta (author)jayb12014-01-30

That just penetrated my Yuck tolerance field ( mostly cause of the squish factor), though I have so much respect for that knowledge of healing. Similar to how people used young coconut water for blood transfusions in the second World War. I love resourcefulness and learning weird and interesting facts. Thanks for sharing -r

Sparticles (author)2014-01-27

Here in Belgium they have now (finally) legally approved 10 kinds of insects for mainstream consumption.
And since they are becoming more and more available at reliable sources, it's good to see some nice recipes here on instructables.

nanaverm (author)Sparticles2014-01-29

Could you please list which 10 they are? I've Googled and can't find them. What I did find out was that one should not eat insects that are necrophagous (eat dead flesh) or coprophagous (eat manure). OK insects were crickets, cicadas, ants, grasshoppers, scorpions, tarantulas, rhino. beetle grub, and these worm larvae: meal-, wax-, mopani-, silk-, bamboo-. And that cooking destroyed 40% of the nutrition.

rimamonsta (author)nanaverm2014-01-30

I can't wait to experiment with scorpions. Yes, cooking does destroy some nutrients, but that is the case with most of what we eat. I will be experimenting with straight dehydration of insects in the future as to keep all the nutrients present .

Sparticles (author)nanaverm2014-01-29

Apparently there isn't a list to be found in English, but here is one in Dutch and French.

In English, the list is respectively:

House cricket
African migratory locust
Buffaloworm or lesser mealworm
Wax moth caterpillar
American desert locust
Banded cricket
Lesser wax moth caterpillar

shyrell (author)2014-01-29

Great ible! I would get grossed out watching people eat insects on tv programs. But your instructable makes me want to try them. I did not see cleaning instructions for the crickets. Do you rinse them as well?

shyrell (author)shyrell2014-01-29

Never mine. I just found it! Silly me. Sometimes I just read too fast! :)

rimamonsta (author)shyrell2014-01-30

Thanks for the comment. I'll be posting recipes in the few days for sweet and savory next step insect cooking if you're interested. I've already posted a Berry Ganache with ginger orange glazed crickets that were a hit at the work place. By the way, I do the same thing...reading right past stuff. Happy eating.


erkam (author)2014-01-29

dont eat bugs

rimamonsta (author)erkam2014-01-30

Oh come on. Can I peer pressure you into it?

tjk1939 (author)2014-01-29

I have an idea, you eat the bugs, I'll eat the beef.

rimamonsta (author)tjk19392014-01-30

You got it. But really, I like variety. I also like options ( like when sh?t hits the fan ) and how to best prepare those options. But hey, we all have our tastes, and bugs aren't yours. I get it.

Berkana (author)2014-01-29

It appears that you are not purging their before cooking them for food. Isn't it the case that if you shock live crickets and meal worms in hot water, they evacuate their colons? If this is the case, it would seem to me that you'd want to purge the crickets of the junk in their colons before cooking them.

rimamonsta (author)Berkana2014-01-29

You are absolutely right. I forgot to mention that. I did fast them for about 30 hours before I prepared them. I will revise my Instructables. Thank you for taking notice.


Berkana (author)rimamonsta2014-01-30

(I was watching "Dirty Jobs" on the Discovery channel when Mike Rowe visited a suet bird food company that used meal worms in their formula. The guy put a pillow case full of meal worms into a large stockpot of hot water, and the water quickly turned brown from all the bug excrement. He explained that the live worms evacuate their bowels when heat shocked. This is where I heard about this phenomenon.)

Does fasting them for as little as 30 hours ensure they purge their bowels?

zack_man888 (author)2014-01-29

Thanks a lot for the well designed instructable. I have always been put off by the concept of eating bugs, but I've always been curious what they taste like. If my friends are up to the challenge, I think I might try it, it does look good the way you prepared it.

rimamonsta (author)zack_man8882014-01-30

Thank you my dear, that was just the prep for other recipes. I just finished a gluten free mealworm flour French bread with porcini mushroom ghee that I will be posting in the next few days. I will say, that being put off by eating bugs was why I started experimenting with eating insects. I have to say I have been pleasantly surprised.

thanks for the comment.-r

Laminarin (author)2014-01-29

Another method to separate meal worms from their molts, poop, and dead brethren is to bait them with an apple. This works particularly well if you have a big culture of them growing in a tub. Place a paper towel or anything else clean that they can crawl on in the container and put an apple slice in the middle. Wait for an hour or so then pull out the paper towel and the apple which should be covered with worms. Repeat until you have enough worms. This method can take some time but requires little work on your part and gut loads your worms with tasty apple.

rimamonsta (author)Laminarin2014-01-30

It is true... But I like the empty bellies. But apples aren't a bad filling that is for sure.

Vampyra65 (author)2014-01-29

Do you have any suggestions for June bugs ? I froze a huge coffee can of them last summer and still have them in the freezer. It's nice to see another woman who is not afraid of bugs. Thank you for posting this.

rimamonsta (author)Vampyra652014-01-30

You are very welcome and i appreciate the appreciation. I would say roasted with a bit of salt or a seasoning of your choice . Best to not eat their wings and legs though. I personally like to grind everything up and add it to something else or roast it. Its all preference and taste though. thanks so much for the question and comment. -R

jbarziza (author)2014-01-28

Bugs make so much sense if we can get over the ick factor. (I haven't yet, but I'm working on it.) Cattle take something like 26 pounds of grain to produce one pound of protein. A bug, on the other hand, can take 1.2 pounds of grain to produce one pound of protein. Cattle emit methane, a potent greenhouse gas, bugs don't. Cattle, pigs, sheep, and others require acreage, bugs don't. You don't have to clear rain forests to raise bugs. You can raise them yourself, and not have to worry about what hormones have been injected into your meat when you eat them. You don't have to worry about whether your meat has been cloned if you've raised it yourself. They make a lot of sense, there's just that ick factor.

mutrised (author)jbarziza2014-01-29

I confess, I'm really not ready to change my piece a beef against a bowl of large worms... But the fact is what you said totaly makes sense for me... An other GREAT problem... Is telling that to my girlfriend... Hum... Big deal coming

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