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DIY: Cricket meal – from raising your own crickets to making your own cricket meal

So, as there has been a lot of fuzz about cricket meal lately, I decided to give it a try myself. Since I like to experiment, I decided to raise the crickets myself, so I could go through the entire process.

After researching some literature I set up a breeder box with 15 females and 5 males. I fed them chick diet and provided water ad libitum. Unfortunately, the adults were bought from a pet shop so I didn’t know how old the adults were. I let them lay their eggs in a small plastic container filled with 2-3 cm of peat soil, which was put in the breeder box for 24 hours. The eggs hatched after 9 days. They were kept at 29-32 °C and reached adulthood in 36 days. Unfortunately, the adult crickets weighed not as much as I wanted them to (>0,4 grams each). The average weight per cricket was 0,287 grams for females and 0,243 grams for males. The total amount of crickets I could harvest out of one 20x20x20 cm container was 125 grams, which would translate to approximately 470 crickets.

Figure 1: Live crickets

The harvested crickets were euthanized by putting them in the freezer for around 30 minutes. After this the crickets were washed in cold running water and the dirt was separated. Then they were boiled for 5 minutes, to kill pathogens. After boiling the crickets were washed again and put on a paper towel to remove excess water.

Figure 2: Washing the crickets and sieving out the dirt after - Figure 3: Crickets after 5 minute boil and another wash being euthanized in the freezer

After this cleaning process, the crickets were placed in the dehydrator and were dried at 75 °C for 10 hours.

Figure 4: Placing the crickets in the dehydrator plate

After being dried, the crickets were weighed again. The fresh weight of 125 grams was reduced to 35 grams, which is a reduction of around 72%, which is conclusive with the literature.

Figure 5: Crickets being weighed after 12 hrs of drying at 75 degrees Celsius

The dried crickets were grinded using a mashing device. After being ground, I decided to sieve them with an ordinary kitchen sieve. This resulted in a very fine cricket meal and quite a lot of residue. In total, I got 11 grams of cricket meal and 23 grams of cricket residue.

Figure 6: Sieving the ground crickets

This high amount of residue could be caused by the low fresh weight of the crickets, or because it wasn’t grinded long enough. In the residue were a lot of very hard particles, which are shown in the picture below. I do not know what these are.

Figure 7: Cricket 'residue'

Even though this is only a very small amount of cricket meal, the same basic rules apply for larger scale production. I think crickets are extremely promising as a source of animal protein for human consumption. They are easy to rear in extreme high densities, they can be fed inexpensive chick diet and water.

If anyone has any questions, I will be more than happy to answer them. Hope it is of help to those interested in cricket meal :)

Comments

  • Why do you think your crickets where so small? Maybe your chick diet was missing some elements or the temperature was not actually 30~C°?

  • Hello Redsjack, I'm very sure the temperature was at least 30 degrees celcius. Was thermostated with a few thermometers beside it. I think it has to do with the fact that, even though I fed daily, I couldn't put a lot of feed in the bin because there was no space for that. Besides that I didn't replace water daily, even though it got very dirty very quickly. Another problem was that there wasn't enough ventilation in the bin, so it was very humid and there might not have been a lot of oxygen.

  • Recently, I got access to this paper: Patton (1995) Growth and Development Parameters for Acheta domesticus.

    Really interesting information. Most importantly: the crickets in their research reached impressive weights of 403,5 mg males and 552,08 mg females. They used a self-formulated diet.

    They also stated that the use of commericial diet, like dog pellets or chick mash would result in adult weights of only 300-350mg. From the comm. Diets, chick mash gave best results.

  • Hi EntoJesse, - Cricket hind-gut is where they digest & then absorb food. Yet the mid-gut is where the majority of enzymes for fat (lipase), protein (protease) & carbohydrate (amylase) are produced. These enzyme levels alter based on food composition & curiously lipase enzyme levels also can go down when the cricket is either under-fed or over-fed.

    For the cricket Gryllodes sigillatus their growth & subsequent development of their wings is 20% of protein in the food. Crickets experience faster growth when their metabolic rate is elevated (one reason why crickets reared together, rather than in isolation, gain more weight even though not significantly more size) & their ramped up metabolic rate coincides with when consume most of their food.

    One team determined that the breed of crickets Grillo bimaculatus ("2 spotted") on a high protein diet only took 8 instars over 55 days to become adults, but on a low protein diet needed 10 instars over 117 days to become adults; when given 16 hours of light at ~29* Celsius + 8 hours dark at ~ 11* Celsius. See Merkel's (1977) "The effects of temperature and food quality on the larval development of Gryllus bimaculatus (Orthoptera, Gryllidae)"http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00345416

    I would imagine the formulated diet you cited (by Patton's team) added instant whey isolate to elevate % of protein without requiring crickets to expend energy trying to eat more feed in order to derive more protein pellets/mash. Cricket diets impact on weight has to take into account whether one is looking just at adults or those moving from last 2 larval stages into adulthood. Fed the same diet adults (irregardless of whether in groups or all alone) will still gain proportionately more weight than larvae kept together & fed that diet.

    These larvae are mostly bulking up on protein & lipids (fats); their carbohydrate intake seems to go toward synthesizing lipids. If they don't get more than 5% lipids through their diet then they have to divert carbohydrates for making lipids.

    If one wanted to make a cricket diet that was used from late larval stages through & into adulthood make sure there is enough lipids (fats) but not too much . Which to me means at least 6% of fat content (but not too much more) & at least 22% protein. Merkel (referenced above) indicated that for 2 spotted crickets actually 30% protein was best if the crickets' rearing temperat theure was kept constant; since in those conditions the least amount of energy is needed to gain dry weight.

    J.E. MacFarlane proved that for Acheta cricket larvae reared on laboratory created diet's that diet's influence can extend though 4 generations. Here is a chronological listing of MacFarlane's teams cricket research that might be of interest: (1962) :A comparison of the growth of the house cricket (Orthoptera: Gryllidae) reared singly and in groups" published by Can. J. Zool. 40: 559-560; (1964)" The protein requirements of the house cricket, Acheta domesticus L ." again in Can. J. Zool. 42: 645-647; (1964) "Factors affecting growth and wing polymorphism Gryllodes sigillatus (Walk.): dietary protein level and a possible effect of photoperiod" also in Can. J. Zool. 42: 767-771; (1984) "Studies on the group effect in Acheta domesticus (L.) using artificial diets" published in J. Insect Physiol. 30: 103-107; & (1988) "Nutritional studies on the group effect in Acheta domesticus (L.)" also published in J. Insect Physiol. 34: 1-4.

  • edited January 2016

    I started this topic in another category without being aware of this one already existing

    Hi everybody, I just did the first drying of some crckets in my new dehidrator. What is the best temperature to dry them. I had them at 67º-72ºC and the job was done in 5 hours. Any suggestions ??

    These huge dehydrators can have 44 trays drying upto 30 kilos per session (but I doubt if that is recommendable, seems to be a lot)

  • edited January 2016

    Hi! I'd suggest drying at no more than 55C to minimize protein degradation, if you use temperatures that are too high, you basically bake them. At 55C, it should take around 24-36 hours to dry, depending on the thickness of your layer.

    p.s. still need to reply to your email, very busy at the moment..

  • Hi Jesse, All tests at lower temperatures (<55º) took a long time to dry and the crickets came out "smelly" . At 65º-70º C they dehydrate in 12 hours (full dehydrator, 10 kilos of fresh crickets) smell and taste is good. I recycle them by mixing the meal with the cricket feed.(can´t sell it here, not allowed) I am boosting up the proteine in their feed and they seem to like it.

  • Hi guys - this is really great information! Thank you so much for sharing.

    Can I please ask about your method(s) for measuring the quality of the end product? What kinds of tests would be appropriate for this please? How can I ensure that the cricket flour/meal is safe and good for human consumption?

  • I have the same question with #octavius. Can anyone give me academic or practice documents about this cricket meal. Many thanks. My mail: nguyenddtrung@gmail.com My facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ductrnug

  • Try Klunder, et al., (2012) "Microbiological aspects of processing and storage of edible insects", originally published in journal Food Control, Vol.26(2); free full pdf is available on-line

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