February 8, 2023

Mealworm seasoning? Scientists explore its flavor to satisfy meat cravings

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(CNN) — Would you like to add some seasoning powder? meal worm with your food?

It’s a question you’ll soon hear around the table, or at least that’s the hope of scientists at Wonkwang University in South Korea.

Researchers In Hee Cho and Hyeyoung Park presented a meaty mealworm flavoring at the fall meeting of the American Chemical Society, according to a press release issued on Wednesday. His research, they say, is a response to the dietary demands of a growing world population and the looming climate crisis.

“The world food market continues to grow, but there is still a need to explore new food materials and/or develop new food products because food resources are gradually running out,” Cho said. at a press conference posted on the YouTube account of the American Chemical Society.

The insects are “truly eco-friendly and more efficient compared to typical livestock,” Cho said.

And they are a good source of protein.

Despite their ecological and nutritional benefits, mealworms still face a challenge that prevents them from easily finding their way into meals: the ick factor. Mealworms just gross customers out, Cho said.

“Many consumers do not like their physical appearance,” he said at the press conference. “So most of the insects have been used in crushed or powdered form as food additives.”

Cho and Park’s research focused on the flavor possibilities associated with mealworm powder, exploring how different ways of cooking can produce different flavors that could make the insects more appealing to eat.

Specifically, the researchers seasoned the mealworms with amino acids, garlic powder, onion powder, and mushroom powder, and experimented with different cooking methods. Ultimately, their goal was to perfect a “meaty” flavor that would feel satisfying and familiar to consumers. People trying to reduce their meat intake could use a mealworm additive to satisfy their meat cravings, for example.

Heating the mealworms with sugar produced the most popular “meaty” flavor, as rated by volunteers who tested the different formulations. The scientists hope their work will “contribute to the commercial development of meat-like and savory flavorings and condiments, and will encourage the prepared food industry to include edible insects in their products.”

“Insect farming requires only a fraction of land, water and feed compared to traditional livestock farming,” Cho said. “Edible insects are superfoods.”

Would you eat a bug salad? 0:49



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