The taste of crickets is impacted by the slaughtering method
It’s already well-known that the taste of meat, fish, and lobsters depend on how the animal was killed. Could it be the same with crickets and other edible insects? Scientists emitted this hypothesis.
What impact the flavor of crickets?
The nutty taste of crickets and other edible insects can be impacted by several factors. From the egg to the plate!
First, the bedding has an overall impact on the smell of the insects. I must not be the only one to have smelled crickets who were fed with fish feed. Special experience…
But let’s get back to deliciousness! Last year, I made a personal test and taste with mealworms; their feed has an impact on their taste. Depending on the type of grain fed; there is a slight difference between the color and taste of the insects. It’s not only the nutritional values of insects that are impacted by the feed but also their taste.
It’s only the beginning… During the Eating Insect Conference in Detroit, I had the opportunity to have a talk with the founder of One Hop Kitchen about this topic. When they are looking for crickets for making their delicious sauce, they also take into account how the cricket was fed at the last stage of its life. Is is the secret of their bolognese?
The processing and cooking method also have an impact. The taste and look of fried, freeze-dried or roasted crickets are different.
Finally, for cricket powder it is the same. As explained in the excellent “Insects as Sustainable Food Ingredients: Production, Processing and Food Applications”, there are different method of processing crickets and turn them into powder. Those methods have an impact on the color, the texture and the taste of the final cricket powder. I tried and enjoyed both of them.
But there is a stage that has never been explored: The killing method of crickets by itself. That’s the study made by the scientists in the International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science.
Test and taste of crickets
For this experience, the scientists prepared 2 different crickets broths:
- Crickets were frozen prior to cooking
- Crickets were alive prior to cooking
Those insects dishes were served to 120 people. Those lucky guys then judged the different preparations according to the 5 tastes (salty, sweet, bitter, sour and umami)
The attendees found that when the crickets were alive before cooking, the overall taste was stronger. This was due to an increased perception of salt and umami.
For the physical properties of the broth; it has been noted that this latest broth was darker and more acidic.
How the taste of crickets is impacted by the killing method
Insects just as crustaceans store energy reserves in the form glycogen. When they are alive before being cooked, it induces the same reactions as with lobsters. There is a stress reaction that occurs and exhausts their energy and depletes their glycogen level. This exhaustion also induces an enzymatic reaction.
- The lower glycogen level results in a more acidic broth.
- The enzymatic reaction increases the potential for the Maillard reaction that lead to a darker and more flavorful broth.
We have now a new parameter to take in account when cooking insects. This new parameter will also arouse the question of the ethics related to killing insects. This another question, is outside of today’s topic… But I got some interest on this particular point and I got a brand new book to read about this…
Resource: Michael F. Farina – How method of killing crickets impact the sensory qualities and physiochemical properties when prepared in a broth – International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science (Volume 8, July 2017, Pages 19–23)