January 19, 2017

Finnish research adds mealworms and crickets to the menu

Meatballs and falafel containing protein-rich insect fractions could soon be on the menu in Finland.
Meatballs and falafel containing protein-rich insect fractions could soon be on the menu in Finland.
VTT

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has harnessed the structure and flavour of mealworms and crickets in order to develop food ingredients.

The results have the potential to be used in the manufacture of foods such as meatballs and falafel. The announcement comes in light of impending changes in EU legislation next year that will open the floodgates for the future farming of insects and phyla in Europe and their processing for consumption.

VTT has developed a dry fractionation method that can easily produce insect fractions with varying flavours and degrees of coarseness.

Fat was removed from the insects prior to this fractionation, with the results containing up to 80 per cent crude protein.

These insect fractions effectively bind water and fat, thus are particularly suitable as ingredients in various solid foods. VTT tested the fractions as a raw material for meatballs and falafel balls by replacing between five and 18 per cent of meatball or falafel content with insect fractions.

Given that insects are rich in high-quality protein, even such a small addition of the insect fractions tripled the protein content of falafel balls.

Many consumers and the food industry are already interested in insects as a dietary source of protein. However, their industrial exploitation will require identifying the characteristics of insect raw materials and developing them into a form that is suitable for use in the food industry.

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