VTT scientists have developed food ingredients from mealworms and crickets. They are the most widely farmed insects in Western countries.
The scientists developed a dry fractionation method to easily produce insect fractions with varying flavors and degrees of coarseness. Fine fractions contain small amounts of the insect chitin shell which feels rough on the tongue. They have a strong meat-like taste. Coarse fractions are milder in flavor and contain more chitin. Fat was removed from the insects prior to fractionation. Therefore, the insect fractions contained up to 65–80 % crude protein.
Because insect fractions effectively bind water and fat, they are particularly suitable as ingredients in various solid foods. The fractions were tested as a raw material for meatballs and falafel balls, by replacing 5–18 % of meatball or falafel dough with insect fractions. Insects are rich in high-quality protein. A small addition of the insect fractions into falafel dough tripled the protein content of falafel balls.
Insects have not yet been granted a novel food authorization within the EU, but it is expected that one will be granted in 2018. Despite the lack of an authorization, insects have become a major new food trend in Europe. Eating insects as whole seems unpleasant to many people, therefore, a widespread introduction of insects in western countries will require the development of their processing into ready-to-use raw materials for foodstuffs.
Photo: © VTT
- VTT Technical Research Centre, Finland