About two years ago, I tried to farm my own crickets in my small apartment. That might not make a ton of sense to you, but it seemed like a great idea at the time.
I had been reading a lot about these trendy new insect-food startups, I tried some tasty cricket-protein bars and then I wanted to take my protein production into my own hands. Crickets are high protein, good at converting food into body mass, nutritious and (according to the internet) easyish to grow at home. People who keep reptiles that eat bugs seem to be able to grow them just fine.
I could not. I tried everything to make those damn crickets happy, but they were not happy.
What they were, was disturbingly cannibalistic. They ate each other a lot. This apparently means they are stressed out, despite our best efforts to keep them calm. They like to hide so I put lots of nice egg cartons in their tank to hang out in, gave them lots of food and water and a little heat pad in case they were chilly, but also an unheated area in case they were too warm. I tried to build them a cricket paradise.
But the cricket cannibalism persisted. They would eat and drink and reproduce - lots of little baby crickets hopping around. But their numbers never really grew and eventually it was clear that they were chomping each other more than the food I was feeding them. I was spiralling down an internet rabbit hole of cricket breeding people, trying all their tips and tricks and nothing seemed to help.
I eventually gave up. I was sad that my project failed and I missed their gentle chirps, like a live white noise machine in my living room. It was soothing. But I still wanted to try cooking with crickets so I kept my eye out for a source of readily available cricket powder. I looked around online and a few times I even had some in my amazon cart, but shipping was prohibitively expensive.
Recently I saw that Superstore has cricket powder. I’m not normally into buzz marketing supermarkets, but this the only place I have found cricket flour anywhere near where I live. It's still pretty expensive, about $15 for 113 grams, which is a pretty small bag. I hope that they will gain popularity and the price will go down.
Crickets are a great to replace other animal proteins, they are relatively climate-friendly compared with cows, pigs or chickens. If you are interested in reducing your meat consumption for environmental reasons, switching some your protein to bugs is a great step.
If the idea of eating bugs seems gross, too leggy and antenna-y, starting with ground crickets is a lot easier. Look how un-intimidating cricket flour is:
Ground into a flour, crickets are pretty bland and mildly nutty, they can go with pretty much anything, sweet or savoury. I wanted to create a few recipes with cricket flour to give an idea of how versatile it is. It’s a great protein and vitamin boost to all sorts of recipes, and you can use it pretty much as you would protein powder. Stay tuned for more soon in this Let’s eat bugs! series; I’m going to make cricket enriched polenta fries, energy bites and cookies.
cricket & berry breakfast bars:
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
6 tbs cricket flour
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
3 tbs hemp seed hearts
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
Heat oven to 350°F. Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper.
Combine all ingredients except butter in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a couple times to combine. Add butter and pulse until the butter is incorporated and the crumbs form into a sandy rubble. Press about half of the mixture into the bottom of prepared pan. Bake for about 10 minutes and allow to cool.
raspberry & strawberry filling:
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound mixed raspberries and strawberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat the berries. Spread filling over pre-baked crust. Sprinkle remaining crumb over the filling and bake about 40 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the top is golden.
Cool completely and slice into squares. Chirp!
Note: this is not a sponsored post, I bought my own cricket powder at full price. If anyone wants to send me some cricket products to try, I'll take em! I may or may not actually talk about them though.