When facing a survival situation, especially in the wilderness, it’s good to think outside of the box and leverage every food source available to you. While the thought of eating a grasshopper or cricket may not be attractive to many, starving is considerably less appealing.
Grasshoppers can be eaten and are an excellent source of protein. Aside from their nutrient content, they are also useful in survival situations since they live in a broad range of habitats. They can even be dried and stored for up to a year and kept in a survival stockpile.
While attitudes towards eating insects like grasshoppers are still divided in much of the western world, in other countries they have long been a staple in people’s diet. In a survival situation, you will be at an advantage if you know how to find, capture and prepare grasshoppers. If you want to know more, please keep reading.
Benefits of Eating Grasshoppers
Scientists have increasingly pointed towards the advantages of adding grasshoppers to our every day diets because of their health benefits. These benefits include being rich in protein and minerals and much lower in cholesterol than beef or pork.
Eating grasshoppers, crickets, and other insects are also good for the environment as they require forests and other natural habitats, rather than cultivated farmland. While the environment will not be your first concern in a survival situation, you will find it easier to use food sources that don’t require a very specific man-made habitat, making insects like grasshoppers an ideal choice.
What Does a Grasshopper Taste Like?
While you might be concerned about the taste of grasshoppers, there is no reason to worry. They can have a mild taste of prawn or other shellfish, but largely taste of whatever ingredients they were cooked with. This allows you to use herbs and spices to adjust the flavor to your taste.
They can be crunchy or chewier, depending on how they are prepared, again allowing you to have a variety of tastes and textures in your diet which can be important for morale as well.
On average, grasshoppers contain’ 20g of protein and just 6g of fat per 100g, compared to 26g of protein and 15g of fat in beef, which also contains 30% of your daily cholesterol. In comparison, chicken also has lower cholesterol and fat, but only contains 19g of protein per 100g.
Of course, in many survival situations, you will also lack access to beef and chicken while grasshoppers are easier to find in the wild. They can also be an excellent source of long-term food, as they can be stored for up to one year once dried. This can be useful in any long-term survival situation.
Finding and Capturing Grasshoppers
The easiest way to capture grasshoppers is to simply harvest them with your hands. They can be easiest to find and capture in the morning, as they are less active while it is colder.
You can make this easier by placing a wool or flannel shirt or blanket in the area and then chase the grasshoppers onto it. This will make them easier to capture as they get caught on the fibers just enough to slow them down.
You can also utilize traps. For example a large mason jar with some bait, like fruit or vegetables. This will attract the grasshoppers and you will be able to find several in them the next day. Then you can simply place the lid on the jar to capture them.
Are There Any Grasshoppers That Should Be Avoided?
Most grasshoppers are edible and do not contain poison. There are some that are toxic, but they are brightly colored and much easier to see and capture as they are slower. The bright coloring acts as a warning to predators which means they do not have to have the same agility to avoid them.
Therefore, focus on the plain colored grasshoppers, which might mean more effort in capturing them, but also means a safe meal for you.
How to Eat Grasshoppers
There are many ways to prepare grasshoppers to eat. However, the most important thing is that you should always cook them. Let’s discuss the easiest ways to prepare and cook them.
- Remove the head and entrails – Most people choose to remove the head and entrails first. While the entrails are edible, there is a risk of parasite transmission. If they are well cooked however, this should not be a problem.
- Remove the wings and legs – While they are not harmful, they are also not really edible and do get stuck in your teeth. This makes the whole experience much less pleasant.
- Clean the grasshoppers before cooking – This will wash away any dirt and excess guts.
How to Cook Grasshoppers
If you are in a situation with little equipment, the easiest way to prepare grasshoppers is to roast them over a fire. To do this:
- Use a long stick about the width of a finger.
- Split it lengthwise in the middle, but leave the top and a long handle connected. This creates a clamp where you can insert your grasshoppers.
- Make sure you remove the bark, as this can add an unpleasant taste.
- Then, simply clamp the grasshoppers into your roasting stick and hold them over a fire for about 10 minutes to ensure they are cooked through.
If you have more equipment, as well as further ingredients, there are multiple ways of preparing grasshoppers.
- Roast them in the oven, which takes about 1-2h but also lets you prepare much larger amounts, which can be useful and much more time-efficient.
- Fry them in a pan, with oil and seasonings of your choice. Garlic is popular, as is chili, which both grow in the wild, depending on your area. Both can also be dried and stored so make an excellent stock of spices in long term survival situations.
- Deep-fry them, although this is likely the least efficient way in a survival situation.
What Happens If You Eat a Raw Grasshopper?
Grasshoppers can carry parasites and nematodes, including tapeworms, so it’s always best to cook them. Even if you are starving, the risk is not worth the reward so avoid ever eating them raw.
Can You Get Sick From Eating Grasshoppers?
As long as grasshoppers are prepared cooked properly, there should not be any issues with getting sick off of them. They are basically pure protein so, except for the taste, it’s really no different than eating a piece of cooked chicken.
Grasshoppers are an excellent, widespread source of protein and other nutrients that are easily found in the wild. While capturing and preparing them can take some time, it is not difficult.
It is important to remember that you can only eat plain colored grasshoppers to avoid any risk of poison. Always make sure you thoroughly cook them to avoid the risk of catching any parasites the animals can carry.
In an emergency, preparation can be simple, but if you have more time, you can cook more elaborate meals. Just be careful, after trying them you may find yourself one day craving their taste. Okay, maybe not, but at least you will appreciate the little hoppers a bit more.
Do grasshoppers bite? Grasshoppers do bite. They have mouths designed to cut through vegetation and, while they won’t actively hunt you down and bite you, they can certainly give chomp down on the fleshy areas of your hand if put them in distress.
Are Lubber Grasshoppers poisonous? Lubber grasshoppers are poisonous and can kill small mammals or birds. While they are not likely to kill a human, they certainly can make you sick. They are usually easy to avoid since they have a toxic foam that leaks from their body when handled. They also taste really bad, so if you accidentally cook one to eat, spit it out immediately.
Can you raise grasshoppers for long term survival? Grasshoppers can be raised for consumption and it’s actually a lot less harmful to the environment. This practice is currently being developed in Mexico.