Grasshoppers: The New Superfood?
Bug enthusiasts may have discovered that the fountain of youth & a new superfood is plentiful in our very own backyards. The thing that could give us greater arterial health, according to local medical researcher, Binx Selby, is also the largest grassland preditor: grasshoppers!
On September 19 at Cady Hall, around thirty brave individuals gathered to investigate the finer aspects of grasshoppers and other edible insects. During this creepy crawly potluck event, hosted by Borderlands Restoration, guest speakers from the community talked about everything from ecology to hunting to survival and the nutritional aspects of insects in our grasslands.
We learned that common edible insects come from the families of Lepidoptera (butterflies, moths and their caterpillars), Coleoptera (beetles), Blattodea (cockroach!), Ortnoptera (crickets and grasshoppers) and Homoptera (cicadas) insect families. Though grasshoppers are the most preferred edible, according to the speakers.
Sisters Cindy Martin and Kim Nenninger shared a riveting tale of adventure and survival from foraging grasshoppers during a 10-day trek along the Arizona Trail. Eating grasshoppers gave them the opportunity to experience wild Arizona, and test their boundaries. And if you try grasshoppers, they say, “Don’t forget the Old Bay Seasoning!”
Grasshopper Recipes from entomologist (bug researcher) Liz Bernays with additions from entomologist and USDA agriculture inspector, Jason Botz:
Collect a load of grasshoppers by sweeping grassland with a butterfly net or by picking them off grasses in the early morning and placing them into a 5-gallon bucket filled with a couple inches of water. Hoppers are slow and easier to catch in the cool morning hours.
Remove any rainbow grasshoppers or Mexican generals (large black species). These 2 species eat poisonous plants and are therefore toxic.
Keep the hoppers in a cage or bucket with a lid for 24 hours to allow them to empty their guts; you probably don’t want to eat partially digested plant material.
Place hoppers in a bag and freeze. Rinse before (if you’re quick) or after you freeze.
When frozen shake in a big jar to break off spiny back legs.
Fry in butter or olive oil with garlic and rosemary (or Old Bay!) until crispy.
Or place on a jelly roll pan & toast in oven at 200 degrees for 6-8 hours or until crispy brown. Grind the toasted bugs into flour using coffee grinder. Keep the flour in a sealed container in the fridge. When baking, Jason Botz likes to mix this high-protein, nutty and slightly sweet flour in a 3-part wheat flour to 1-part grasshopper flour. Makes excellent chocolate chip cookies!
Article found in October issue of the Patagonia Regional Times.