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Amazon and Ocado sell flour made from ground-up insects

Milton Magoffin (2019-09-02)

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Rich with decadent dark chocolate, squidgy in the middle and crunchy on top, they're some of the best brownies I've tasted.

But this is no ordinary treat. The brownies I'm tucking into contain a strange — and undeniably stomach-churning — ingredient: cricket flour, made from the ground-up insects.

Before you stop reading in disgust, take my word for it: they're genuinely delicious. Not only that, but the flour in these brownies is extremely high in protein, vitamins and minerals — so much so that experts are dubbing it the new ‘superfood'.

Sarah Rainey tried to make the brownies using cricket flour, which she described as genuinely delicious

Two billion people around the world, mostly in Asia and South America, already eat insects, from crickets to mealworms, roaches and locusts, as part of their diet.

In Britain, the craze is slowly catching on. There's a cricket farm in Cumbria currently producing 250,000 dried crickets a month for human consumption, while a grub restaurant is flourishing in Pembrokeshire, Wales.

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Share Unsurprisingly, celebrities have jumped on the bandwagon. Angelina Jolie regularly feeds crickets to her children, while Nicole Kidman describes them as being ‘like nothing you've ever tasted'.

But if you, like me, find the idea of crunching on a creepy-crawly revolting, cricket flour may offer a solution. It's more palatable than whole bugs — and far more nutritious than normal flour.

I order several bags from website Eat Grub, whose founder Shami Radia says he's seen a huge growth in sales this year alone. ‘There is a trend for high-protein, clean, sustainable foods, and insects tick each of those boxes,' he explains.

The insect flour has been praised by experts for being highly nutritious and has been dubbed the new superfood

The flour, available on Amazon, Ocado and at Budgens supermarkets, is far from cheap — a 100g bag costs £9.99 — but that may be set to change. Experts predict the global market for edible insects could triple in the next five years, meaning products could become more widely available and cheaper.

The crickets come from dedicated farms across Europe and Canada, where they are hatched from eggs in sealed, heated (32c) plastic containers, and fed a protein-rich diet.

‘These farms follow EU-approved food safety regulations,' Shami says. ‘The crickets aren't treated or processed with chemicals.' When they are full size (around 2cm), they're frozen — the most humane way to kill them — washed, then roasted. The final stage is milling them into a fine powder, with 11 crickets in each gram of flour.

Environment experts say this kind of farming is more efficient than raising other animals for food. But it may take more than green credentials to convince a squeamish British public to embrace bugs.

Leading nutritionist Gabriela Peacock says the health benefits are impressive, too. ‘Per 100g, crickets have the same protein content as beef and pork. They're also really high in iron and low in saturated fat.'

The flour, available on Amazon, Ocado and at Budgens supermarkets, is far from cheap — a 100g bag costs £9.99

According to the packet I've bought, 100g of cricket flour contains 501 calories, 12 times more Vitamin B12 than salmon and over half my daily allowance of potassium (as much as two portions of spinach).

Deep brown in colour, like wholemeal or spelt flour, it has a pungent smell that's a bit like roasted peanuts. It looks — and smells — a bit like soil. So what does it taste like?

I brave a pinch of the brown powder and am pleasantly surprised — it's earthy and nutty, with a slight bitter aftertaste. But how will it taste in a recipe? I decide to find out.

GOOEY BROWNIES

The recipe uses a 1:1 ratio of cricket flour to plain along with butter, sugar, eggs, baking powder and cocoa. I melt the butter and add the eggs before combining the dry ingredients. The cricket flour is lumpy so I sieve it first.

My brownies don't rise as much as I hoped. They're gooey inside, though, and the cocoa masks its smell.

Taste test: Soft in the centre, crisp on top — they're certainly tasty. My only complaint is the thickness: they're fairly flat and dense, as cricket flour contains no gluten, which helps baked goods to rise. 4.5/5

HEALTHY PANCAKES

Plenty of pancake recipes use protein powder, so this doesn't feel too bizarre. Each serving contains 25g protein, more than half my daily amount.

I whisk eggs and Greek yoghurt with milk, baking soda and one part cricket to three parts plain flour, plus sugar.

Taste test: With syrup and berries, they look like pancakes, smell like pancakes and taste — almost — as good as normal pancakes, if a little grainy. 4/5

SLIMY PASTA

Just cricket flour, water and semolina, which I knead together before feeding through a pasta machine and cooking in a pan of boiling, salted water. I stir in tomato and veg sauce.

Taste test: Bitter and unpleasant. The pasta is greyish, slimy and has a bitty texture which means it gets stuck in my teeth. What a disappointment. 0/5 

RECIPES from The Cricket Cookbook by Austin Miller and Zoe Anton (Amazon, £4)

Advertisement Read more:
The Cricket Cookbook: A Complete Guide to Adding this Sustainable Protein to your Diet. eBook: Austin Miller, Zoe Anton: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

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