Oh Yummy! Muffins Made From Cricket Flour
For many people, eating insects doesn’t sound appetizing. But it’s a big trend in the food industry. The invertebrates have been linked to numerous health benefits because they’re rich in vitamins and protein. For eco-conscious consumers, food made with insects tends to leave a much smaller carbon footprint compared to more traditional protein sources, like cows or chickens.
As a result, numerous food products made from or containing insects have been hitting the market. One particular item, flour made from crickets, has been taking off. It’s even gluten-free! But how does cricket flour compare to all-purpose flour in a taste test?
Professor Katherine Burt (Lehman College), along with a team of researchers, conducted a study to find out. They published their results in the Journal of Culinary Science and Technology.
The researchers compared a banana chocolate muffin made with all-purpose flour to that same-flavored muffin made with cricket flour (CF). Burt and team were especially interested in whether there would be a sharp distinction in terms of “enjoyment, palatability, and desirability.”
They invited 198 participants to complete a blind taste test, and later asked them questions related to each muffin’s characteristics as well as their attitudes toward food products. Interestingly, participants didn’t have a strong preference for either the all-purpose flour muffin or the CF muffin when it came to taste. They did, however, enjoy the texture of the CF muffin more.
Nutritionally, cricket muffins made with cricket flour contained far less fat and were higher in protein, but in order to create a palatable muffin, the researchers had to use more of other ingredients — like eggs — than they would have otherwise.
The point, though, is that an alternative to all-purpose flour exists. The researchers concluded, “Findings from this study provide preliminary evidence that (cricket flour) can be used as a nutritionally superior replacement for (all-purpose) flour in muffins, yet enjoyed equally.”
Of course, getting over the psychological boundaries is another matter entirely. When participants discovered that one muffin had been made with CF, it lessened their desire for it. “The primary barrier to incorporating crickets into a Western diet is psychological,” the researchers wrote.