Chapulines: the Mexican grasshoppers
Chapulines in Spanish
There are plenty of edible grasshoppers species in the world. Indeed not fewer than ten species are consumed in Mexico, and many more in Africa and Asia! This article is about the most widely consumed grasshopper in Mexico.
Where can you find this insect ?
The grasshoppers are mainly harvested in the areas of Oaxaca and Puebla, and they are consumed in southern Mexico.
Harvesting and breeding
Grasshoppers are insect pests of corn and bean crops. They invade the fields as of the first rains (from June to November), and feed themselves with young shoots. Harvesting takes place early in the morning so that the cold numbs the grasshoppers, and they can’t escape from the nets. But today, with pesticides development, it is much harder to find grasshoppers, and Oaxaca’s restaurants now have to get supply from northern fields, in Puebla. Some farmers try to breed those grasshoppers, planting the crops on which they feed and surrounding the fields with nets.
Grasshoppers ensure the income of many families during the rainy season. In Oaxaca, the grasshoppers are sold at 25 euros/kg, which is more expensive than meat. In Europe, or in the United States, grasshoppers can be sold at a higher price, up to 500 euros/kg.
Which size ?
During the harvest, the youthful grasshoppers, from 3 mm to 8 mm, are separated from adults, from 1 cm to 2 cm. The big ones are consumed in snack, while the little ones are cooked in restaurants. However, you can find both sizes on the market.
Which texture ? Grasshoppers are softened by the seasoning based on lemon, and sometimes garlic and pepper. The consistence is not unpleasant, but it requires a long chewing before swallowing it, as if you were chewing lamb’s lettuce.
Which taste ? The taste of roasted grasshoppers without seasoning is really good and is close to the taste of roasted shrimps! But the grasshoppers you’ll find in restaurants cooked with lemon-based seasoning don’t taste as good because of their tartness!
What kind of storage?
Grasshoppers have a short shelf life (between 30 and 90 days). However, the lemon-flavoured ones have a longer shelf life thanks to their tartness which slow down the growth of bacteria.
Nutritional composition of dried grasshoppers from Sphenarium purpurascens species.
|Moisture content||42 %|
Humberto Reyes-Prado, José Manuel Pino-Moreno, Águeda García-Pérez, Sergio Carlos Angeles y Fernando Varela. Determination of nutritional value of “chicatanas” ants Atta mexicana S. 1858 (Hymenoptera-Formicidae) in Morelos state, México. Comparison with chapulines. Entomología mexicana, 3: 770−774 (2016)
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