I love touring and I am trying to cut my dependency on my protein sources such as soy powder, beans and other supermarket stuff. Touring is a bit like camping but with longer distances and a bike. So how do you cook insects? How can I know whether insects are edible? Is it possible to eat all types of insects if I cook them in some way? Can I mix insects such as worms, butterflies and bees? I carry a storm heater, which runs on ethanol-stuff, and a small bottle of oil. How would you cook insects with such equipments? If someone has practical experience on this topic, I am also interested how you manage insects' cooking like preservation, harvesting and such things but try to keep focus on cooking.

Related but not the same

  1. Cheap sources of protein?
  2. Food during touring?
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    Eating bees? Might not be very safe, the stings last. If you can find sufficient bees to be worth considering, then there might be a better food source near by. – Orbling Mar 25 '11 at 0:24
  • @Orbling: you are right, their reparation must carefully be done. Heard that one man died when he got a bee to his throat from a beer can. I have no idea how dead bees are different so I think I want to get expert answers before trying for sure. I added the label food-safety to alert people about possible dangers. – user2954 Mar 25 '11 at 0:28
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    @hhh: There's a reason a crank spanner is also called a "peanut butter wrench." Clearly, you're too hardcore to do bread and peanut butter like other touring dudes. No, you decide you have to eat bugs! :P – BobMcGee Jul 27 '11 at 16:28

What country are you in?

Every country has some edible insects. Most are terrible. some are toxic, or have toxic parts that must be removed first. This knowledge is hard won, and not readily available. Traditional local people are your best source of information (though the Coke and McD's culture has killed that in most parts of the world)

In New Zealand they have the Huhu grub, and in Australia the Witchetty grub. Both of which are edible raw or cooked (roasted on hot coals for a few minutes). They have slightly nutty flavours

These are both soft wood eating larvae around 5 to 10 cm in length, quite plump and juicy. Such insects can be found around the world. But not all are edible

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  • sorry I am planning world-traveling-or-equivalent-touring [1]. So I try to find as much information as possible about this topic, as a good backup protein particularly, reliable source of information like book or scientific stuff highly appreciated. [1] bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/2851/…. – user2954 Mar 24 '11 at 22:38
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    +1 for critical comment and good analysis about the Western homogeneous culture – user2954 Mar 24 '11 at 22:43

I don't know if insects are really a great viable alternative for touring. You'd need to collect a lot of them to make a decent meal and it would take a decent amount of time and energy, but with that in mind on to the actual question:

There are plenty of ways to cook insects. You can toast them, fry them, grind them and mix with other stuff, etc. With the equipment you have I would probably go for toasting.

You might want a field guide of some sorts to determine which are edible. There are more species of insects in the world than anything else so this isn't really something that is too practical to answer here. I also don't know where you are. Grasshoppers and ants are probably generally safe bets, though.

Not all types are safe to eat. Many insects are poisonous or toxic to some degree. No amount of cooking will change that in some varieties. Again, a field guide for your local area would be your best bet.

Mixing edible insect types shouldn't be a problem. It's kind of like asking if it's OK to mix different types of edible vegetables or meats. It may not make for the most appealing meal, but you're eating insects so that might not be your primary concern anyways. On a side note, trying to catch bees for food just seems like a really bad idea.

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  • I know the drawback but insects can be a great backup nutrition if everything else fails. – user2954 Mar 25 '11 at 12:59

Crikey sounds scary. Although there was an interesting documentary on BBC where insect eating was giving some prominence by some biologist I forget his name. He did outline some reasonable reasons such as one being carbon frootprint, when compared with cattle insect breading for food emits 1/4 of greenhouse gases!


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How to Cook Insects for Food
I doubt many people here have practical knowledge in this case.

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    ehow.com is a spam screen scrapper site, it's best to find the real source and attribute that instead. It also makes no mention of the fact that many insects have toxic parts! – TFD Mar 24 '11 at 22:14
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    @Aaronut Using software or using slave wages to "re-write" stuff is still scrapping – TFD Mar 25 '11 at 3:09
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    -1 I agree with TFD, this kind of search-optimized sites are getting very frustrating. Wish I could turn them off. -1 because posting pretty much the first search engine result on this topic, not the least ambiguous one. I will remove down-vote if answer changes to an expert answer, this is no speed competition. – user2954 Mar 25 '11 at 12:55
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    @TFD I'm not going to waste time arguing this, there's a major difference between a spam site and a content farm, not least of which is that the latter pays experts/writers for its content (however poor or nonexistent the vetting process may be) and is run by multi-million dollar enterprises. If that's too nuanced for you then I'm sorry, and I'll reiterate that I have no love for eHow, but please, don't post false facts here, they are not spamming or "scrapping". – Aaronut Mar 25 '11 at 23:04
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    @Aaronut: I think it is Spam more on the lines defined by this sketch [1], it is good :P I know my definition of Spam diverts but it is hard not to make an analogy from such spam sites to this video. Spam, spam, spam, spam, what do you mean? spam spam, insect, spam, spam, food, spam, spam, Y spam, take it away, insect, spam, spam -- can you feel why I don't like this kind of material? It is desperating, irrelevant, won't help communication, mock-expert, -- [1] youtube.com/watch?v=anwy2MPT5RE – user2954 Mar 27 '11 at 1:10

I loved what Heston Blumenthal did with insects in his Mad Hatters Tea Party in his television series, also some excerpts on youtube. I have seen grasshoppers and mealy worms/moth larvae (the ones that invade your kitchen pantry for flours etc) eaten globally. But I am no expert as others here may be. I am from the land of the wichetty grub which i have been told tastes like walnut.

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