Introduction: 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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I tried to dry my frozen mealworms in a dehydrator and they all turned black (dark brown). Are they still good to eat ? how can I dry them so they stay nice and golden color ?