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Using unconventional feeding methods to make mealworms taste amazing

Hi everyone!

When introducing others to the concept of eating insects, a delicious flavour goes a long way. Sadly, mealworms tend to come across as rather bland. If you feed them spices while they are still alive, however, they will readily absorb the flavour, increasing their versatility in the kitchen.

This thread is for sharing any and all experiments in flavouring mealworms in this way. The more we try, the better our chances of making the humble mealworm taste absolutely amazing!

The idea is to infuse live mealworms with different sweet or savoury spices, so they will have much more inherent flavour when the time comes to cook them. This way, they can be better matched with different sauces, dishes or ingredients.

IMPORTANT! If you experiment with feeding your mealies new spices and herbs, start with a small sample population. You do not want to accidentally kill off too many in the case of accidentally feeding them a spice that is toxic to them.


Cinnamon mealworms:

Prep feed (feed this for 2-3 days before euthanising the mealworms): 4 parts rolled oats, 2 parts wheat bran, 1 part durum wheat flour (regular wheat also works - I used durum wheat because I had some left over from making pasta), a generous sprinkling of powdered organic cinnamon. On day 2, add another sprinkling of cinnamon.

Blanching (for cinnamon-flavoured mealies): Add 250ml (1 cup) water, 2-3 tsp salt and 2tsp sugar to a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil while stirring. Add your frozen mealworms and turn the temperature down. Simmer for 3-5 minutes.

After blanching them, the mealworms can be eaten as is, toasted with sesame seeds, gently oven-baked or dehydrated.


Has anyone tried doing something like this before?

If you try making the cinnamon mealworms, please share how it worked out for you and whether you liked the flavour.

If you try a different flavour experiment, share it here, so the rest of the community can try for themselves!

Comments

  • @EntoJesse, you wanted to try flavouring your mealworms with lemongrass, for asian-style dishes. Did you have any luck getting them to eat lemongrass?

    Unfortunately, my mealworm colony is still too small to take another experiment-batch from, but I did try putting a dried kaffir lime leaf in with the cinnamon mealies (I don't have any lemongrass and the food stores are also out of it). An hour later, they were all over it, munching away.

    Perhaps the following could work for asian-style mealworms:


    Feed your mealworms a mix of organic kaffir lime leaves and organic coriander/cilantro (dried and powdered is probably easiest) for 2-3 days before euthanising.

    Blanch your frozen mealworms in lightly salted water for 3 minutes. Pour off the water and pat dry.

    Sautee your mealworms in coconut oil together with garlic, galangal, chill, a generous amount of lime juice, a dash of fish sauce and some peanut butter (unsweetened, if possible). Combine with some chopped veggies (or scoop the mealies out, fry the veggies and then use the mealies as garnish).

    Serve the veggies and mealies with jasmine rice.


    The recipe is inspired by Thai cuisine, but I have never eaten bugs in Thailand, so I have no clue what they do with them there.

  • Finally got a chance to try doing something with my mealies!

    Mini Mealie Meatballs

    After blanching, I made a mealworm puree by crushing them and putting them through a fine sieve. The puree was rolled into little balls and fried. There was so much fat in the mealworm puree that they could be readily fried in their own oil. The mealie-balls had a deep, earthy umami flavour with a hint of asian spice to them (from the cinnamon and kaffir lime leaf they had eaten). The texture was pleasant - soft and meaty. mealworm-puree-balls

    Cuticle Garnish The leftover pieces of exoskeleton/cuticle were fried in olive oil. They turned out nicely - light and crisp and would probably be perfect as a condiment, in salad or as decoration

    When I have more mealworms, I will definitely try this again!

    Oven-baked mealworms In addition, I also oven-baked/dehydrated several of the mealworms. This enhanced the flavour, expressing the tones of cinnamon, kaffir lime and toasted nuts/umami more clearly.

    "Candied Mealies" For a small batch, I also dipped the mealworms in sweetened, beaten egg white before oven-baking.

    These were much tastier than the oven-baked mealworms. The sweetness of the egg white brought out the spice tones in the mealworm, taking the edge off the "mealworm" flavour.

    Next time, I will try Abigail's version and use dehydrated mealworms.

    Here's a picture of all the test samples on one plate:

    Mealworms-cooked-4-ways

  • edited March 2015

    Looks like I put too much salt in the blanching water recipe for cinnamon mealworms. :-S
    A better proportion is:

    250ml (1 cup) water 0.5-1 tsp salt 2-3 tsp sugar

    Sorry about that, guys.

  • edited March 2015

    @hjalmarssonsara, looking very good! Maybe you could mix the mealwormballs with some minced pork?

    I have set up some spice tests myself and will post the results here in a few days. I took 10 grams of fresh last instar mealworms and added some spice to them. The spices I used are:

    1. Curry
    2. Rosemary
    3. Cinnamon
    4. Chive
    5. Parsley
    6. Basil
    7. Italian spice mix (Parsley, oregano, chive & 5% basil)
    8. Thyme
    9. Paprika powder

    I will also try to put some in the freezer for a while and see what that does to the flavour. This way I can determine whether it's possible to prepare them, freeze them and sell them as flavoured mealworms.

    Hopefully they'll taste good ^^

  • Are you feeding them anything besides the spices?

  • Yes, but this was still in preparing phase ^^ I feed wheat bran and carrot slices.

  • edited March 2015

    Yesterday, I put about 1/3 of a teaspoon of Spirulina in my mealie bin. They ate it pretty quickly. If you grow your own spirulina (or other algae) - could you use some of it as a protein/nutrient supplement for your mealies?

    Is there any research on feeding algae (eg. spirulina or chlorella) to mealworms, crickets or other insects? Has anyone in the forum tried it before?

  • I have tried the cinnamon and curry mealworms, but neither one tasted like the spices they were fed for 2 days. I havn't tried any of the others yet as I réally don't like the taste of them, haha.

  • I wonder what's the difference between our mealworms? Mine took on the cinnamon really well, but on the other hand, I pretty much drenched them in it. I also fed them rolled oats (the kind you use for porridge) and flour.

    Perhaps you should try kaffir lime leaves? They left a very strong flavour on the mealworms - much better than the cinnamon.

    Have you tried purging them (put them in a clean, empty container without feed) for at least 24 hours before euthanising?

    You could just puree them through a sieve and fry the meat (you could mix it with shrimp or pork too).

  • This is very interesting. I'm now at a point where I can do lots of experiments and am about to dry roast 5# for use in experimental recipes (these are them!). Those in the photo are ready for the freezer to euthanize before roasting and I thought to just withhold food for 12 hours before freezing.

    I've read recipes that recommend completely purging the worms prior to harvesting - that is no food at all. How long would it take to empty their systems and is it really necessary? Mine are reared on organic wheat bran and oat flour. :) WP_20161107_06_26_02_Pro

    Thoughts? I suppose feeding with "flavors" would be negated by purging.

  • Hello! For how long did you raise your mealworms on spirulina? They seem happy with it?

  • Hi HansK, - A.S. Nielsen's (2016) Danish Technological Institute Thesis titled "Screening of Alternative Feed Substrates for Producion of Tenebrio Molitor Larvae" has lots of data for Spirulina fed to larvae. If there is anything in the research that interests you which would like to ask about please do so. Thesis is available on-line as free full pdf & if you search for it but can't access it let me know so can post a way to get it.

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