Crickets are nutritious, sustainable and surprisingly easy to cook with
The latest super-protein on grocery store shelves may leave even seasoned cooks perplexed. What exactly does one do with 100% cricket powder?
Loblaws recently introduced the unusual product to its President’s Choice line in 113-gram pouches that retail for $14.99.
We asked NAIT research chef Maynard Kolskog (Cooking ’82) what to do with it and why we should bother cooking with bugs.
The benefits of eating crickets
Kolskog has been investigating that very question for the past year. His work developing new food products for clients such as Camola Sustainable Bakery has seen him create recipes that incorporate insects for a variety of products the company sells at farmers markets in Edmonton.
“I think a lot of people are starting to accept [cooking and baking with insects] and not see it as just a crazy novelty thing anymore,” says Kolskog. “People are looking at it as a real, legitimate protein supplement, because the protein and the B vitamins are right off the chart.”
"The protein and the B vitamins are right off the chart.”
According to Entomo Farms, an Ontario company that farms crickets and sells them online, cricket powder has almost twice the protein as an equivalent amount of beef, 30 times the amount of vitamin B12, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach and all nine essential amino acids.
It’s also more sustainable, according to Entomo. Beef requires six times more feed and 12 times more water to produce than crickets. Because of that, Kolskog sees the use of insects as a protein source catching on in North America (and catching up to Europe – on a recent trip to Denmark, he tried crunchy mealworms flavoured with seasonings like smoked chipotle. “I couldn’t stop eating them!”).
“I think people are really starting to think about the finite aspects of our diet. Once your steaks start costing 80 bucks a piece, people will really seriously start looking at it.”
How to cook with crickets
Cricket powder can be sprinkled on granola or muesli and eaten with yogurt. It can also be added to smoothies, though it gives the drink a slightly gritty texture, Kolskog says.
For those interested in cooking with it, Kolskog suggests first trying cricket powder in baked goods. The mild, slightly roasted flavour pairs well with chocolate and nuts. Swap out 10% of the flour in your favourite cookie recipe for cricket powder, Kolskog says. (He's had good results with biscotti.) Using more than that makes the cricket flavour too pronounced.