Crickets... They're What's for Dinner

Aug 18, 2016

Iowa’s first cricket farm that’s producing crickets for human consumption is up and running. Becky Herman is a co-founder of Iowa Cricket Farmer, and she says right now, she’s got nearly 200,000 cricket living in blue bins at the farm. She’s a school teacher and said the idea came to her in the classroom.

“We were watching CNN back in late September and watched a segment on a cricket farmer in Ohio, who were one of the pioneers in this. He was showing around a reporter around his cricket farm which was in a warehouse,” Herman explains.

Roasted Crickets
Credit Photo Courtesy of Jaci Ampulski

 She says she eats crickets, and so does her toddler.  

“You have to eat what you sell. I like them in protein bars. There is also this product called Chirps. They’re like a flaxseed chip, like in the texture. Those are a great snack. My daughter is 3, and she loves the Chirps.”

During this Talk of Iowa interview, host Charity Nebbe talks with Herman. Jaci Ampulski, who is Director of Operations for Big Cricket Farms, also joins the conversation. She and her partner Kevin Bachhuber, who were the farmers featured in that CNN story, are working to get many more farms operational, and Ampulski is currently living in Marion and working with a handful of Iowans interested in crickets.

Donald Lewis, extension entomologist for Iowa State University is a guest during this segment too. 

Interested in experimenting with crickets in the kitchen? Ampulski shared a few recipes.

Cricket Pesto

Ingredients:

·         1 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

·         1 cup extra virgin olive oil

·         3/4 cup crickets

·         3 garlic cloves, minced (about 3 teaspoons)

·         Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

·         Special equipment needed: A food processor

1.     Place the basil leaves and crickets into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a several times. Add the garlic and Parmesan or Romano cheese and pulse several times more. Scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula.

2.     While the food processor is running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady small stream. Adding the olive oil slowly, while the processor is running, will help it emulsify and help keep the olive oil from separating. Occasionally stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor.

3.     Stir in some salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Toss with pasta for a quick sauce, dollop over baked potatoes, or spread onto crackers or toasted slices of bread.

 

Caramel Cricket Crunch

Ingredients:

½ cup butter

½ cup honey

¼ caramel 
Popcorn
 (one full bag, popped in microwave or store bought already popped)
1 cup roasted chopped crickets

Directions:

1.     Heat (melt) butter in small pot with handle on low heat.

2.     Add honey and caramel and blend well for about a minute. 

3.     Mix crickets with popcorn in separate large bowl and pour in the butter/hone/caramel mixture, stirring well. 

4.     Spread out mixture on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 - 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Cut into small pieces and serve warm or cold.