These nutritious little larvae are bred in bulk for pet food and fish bait, and they make good snacks for humans too. It’s possible to buy dead, dehydrated mealworms online – you can eat them or cook with them straight out of the packet.
But these little larvae are pretty easy to grow at home too. If you manage to source some fresh mealworms, dry-roasting is a good ‘intro’ recipe – it’s easy and leaves you with a nutritious snack.
Roasted mealworms straight from the oven. Photo: Little Herds, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Some people suggest purging the larvae first - as you would do with some seafood or snails. This just means you don’t let them eat for two days, to ensure they’ve no food left in their systems.
Before cooking, put them in an airtight container in the freezer. Fifteen minutes will put them to sleep; 24 hours will kill them. Either is ok, it just depends on whether you want them re-animating before they’re cooked. For reasons of ethics and/or yuck factor, you might want them ‘properly’ dead.
Another stage for the extra-cautious is to boil the worms after freezing, for three minutes. This ensures they’re absolutely clean.
Now, the larvae are ready for cooking You could deep-fry, stir-fry, or go experimental with ceviche – but here we’ll stick to the basics: dry-roasting. Just spread the larvae out on greaseproof paper and bake at 80 deg for a couple of hours.
They’re ready when browned and crunchy. Sprinkle with salt and eat hot!