The Food Insects Newsletter
Fried Grasshoppers: For Campouts or at Home
March 1998. Volume 11, Issue #1.
by Charles Griffith, M.S. Retired Clinical Psychologist; Private Consultant. Ozark, Arkansas 72949-8810
Editor's note: The following was sent to us as a Letter to the Editor. We thought many of you would be interested in Mr. Griffith's insights and so are including his entire communication unedited.
Having been an edible wild plant enthusiast for years, my wife and I taught classes on the subject at both Yellowstone Park where we worked for three summers in the mid-eighties and in Colorado. Our most recent classes (three successive summers) have been under the auspices of the Colorado Mountain College Rendezvous (a re-enactment of the trappers' rendezvous that were held in the Rocky Mountains between 1810 and ] 840). These events are held each summer in August, usually in one of the National Forests near Fairplay, Colorado, and sponsored by the Colorado Black Powder Association.
Often students want to know if one can survive on wild edible plants alone in an emergency situation. Since I have never attempted a survival experiment, I have not been able to definitively answer that question, but the more I think about the question the more inclined I am to believe that more protein and fat would need to be a part of a survival diet and thus plants alone would probably not be enough--especially in the Rocky Mountain west where even Euell Gibbons found meager pickings. Plants might sustain someone in the short run a few days or a week or two at most, but it seems that some harvest from the animal kingdom would eventually have to be a part of the survival diet mix unless lots of nuts were available (sorry about that, vegetarians).
In almost all of Gibbons' "wild parties" and survival outings, he included items from the "fauna" category such as fish, crayfish and other seafood, frog legs, game fowl, and some outright "varmints," such as an unlucky porcupine he found wandering out in the Colorado wilderness on one of his adventure trips. Although Gibbons never spoke much of hunting game, as such, he certainly seemed to have the knowledge and skill to quickly take advantage of a wandering member of the animal world. Although a porcupine is not a difficult animal to kill, he would probably have to have some knowledge of skinning and dressing the animal.
Recently, we found the recipe in a popular outdoor magazine from the early 1990s. It was a recipe for fried grasshoppers that was so good that we'd like to pass it along. It seems that grasshoppers are plentiful enough that in a pinch, they might be able to provide the protein portion of a survival diet, if a person can get over any "insect as a food" prejudice from which we, too, have been victim. We had been trying to work up to eating an insect for years. Finally, we gave in to grasshoppers. "Pretty good!" And they are certainly plentiful during a large part of the year and fairly easy to catch--another advantage.
First, catch a bunch of grasshoppers and leave them in a jar overnight to purge (if you're finicky). Then boil them for ten minutes, after which you can easily remove the large legs, and wings, too, if they are also large.
Next, in a bowl, beat one or more eggs, depending on how many grasshoppers you have, to which you add the little critters after removing the legs and wings. Then put the beaten-egg-covered "hoppers" in a paper sack or plastic bag which contains some yellow or white cornmeal and shake. Next, place the egg and cornmeal-covered grasshoppers one by-one into a small frying pan with an inch (2.54 cm) of hot cooking oil and fry until golden brown. After cooking, remove the hoppers from the skillet and place them on paper towels - to soak up any excess oil. Our family experimented by eating them plain, and dipped in mustard, catsup, horseradish, or honey. We could have tried lots of other dips, too, I suppose. We liked them best with honey; small wonder, we have heard that the "honey and locusts" that John, the Baptist, ate, was really a mis-translation of "honey and grasshoppers," Can anyone verify that?
Anyway, eating them fried and without any honey or catsup, etc., they tasted something like fried okra. We liked them well enough to have had them several times now. In a survival situation, we suppose one might want to just roast them on a rock next to a fire, unless you have some cookware and oil along. We would be delighted to see more articles or letters about abundant, easy to catch insects, or even more recipes for grasshoppers. We think that in writing "insects as food" articles, it is important to try to describe the taste of the various food items to help people get over their fear of the unknown. Please feel free to contact me: Charles Griffith; 8514 Beulahland Drive, Ozark, AR 72949-8810; phone: 479-667-9820.
Postscript: During this past decade, while the Griffiths were perfecting their fried grasshopper procedures, young son, Joshua was watching his parents. Now, as a 12 year old, Joshua (and his parents) find it quite usual for him and his friends to bring in a handful (or, perhaps, a hat-full) of grasshopper from the prairie where they live, for mom to fry for a tasty snack for them. Yes, many Euro-Americans, contemporaries of Joshua, are growing up with similar attitudes, grasshoppers mean "tasty snack!"
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