Well, they’re here – Brood X cicadas have finally begun emerging from the ground to kick off their four- to six-week visit. They’re the latest wrinkle in what has been a strange, difficult and downright confusing year and a half.
But there’s one question some have been asking since the last time Brood X made their appearance in 2004 – can you eat cicadas?
Are cicadas healthy to eat?
Yes, they are. In fact, eating insects is considered commonplace for millions of people in many cultures around the world – some even consider them a delicacy. They’re high in protein while lower in carbohydrates and fat, making them a healthy and sustaining food source. They’re even gluten free.
While cicadas themselves are likely healthy for humans to consume, like any food, it comes down to preparation.
What do cicadas taste like?
Cicadas can take on a variety of flavors and textures – they’ve been described as tasting like asparagus, chicken and nuts. They can also be used in recipes calling for shrimp or lobster because they are biologically similar – however, those allergic to shellfish should avoid eating cicadas because their exoskeleton can contain the same allergen.
It’s also recommended that you collect cicadas early in the morning and before their shells can harden. You can do a quick online search to find dozens of recipes for preparing cicadas.
A couple of common ways to enjoy them while you can include:
- Fried – it may not be the healthiest way to prepare them, but frying cicadas makes them crunchy and a little salty. They could make a healthy alternative to less nutritious potato chips or serve as a crispy topping for salads, soups or stir fry.
- Roasted – perhaps the healthier cooking method but still similar to frying in terms of texture, roasting cicadas can be similar to roasted vegetables, with a nuttier and somewhat salty taste. Using spices can add another layer to their flavor profile without the additional calories or fat.
- Dipped in chocolate – while not a cooking method, dipping cooked cicadas in chocolate is a sweet alternative to other sugary snacks. Since cicadas can have a saltier flavor, chocolate dipped ones emulate that salty-sweet combination many people enjoy, like chocolate mixed with peanut butter or pretzels.
- Vegetarian – this is also not a method of cooking, but rather a more conscious way to eat them. Cicadas can serve as a protein-rich alternative to meat – not only is it good for those who abstain from meat, but also the environment, as lower animal byproduct consumption has been shown to drastically reduce greenhouse gases.
Eating cicadas may be a big step out of your comfort zone, so you have the next four to six weeks to decide whether you want to give these a try. If not, you can always consider it again in 17 years when they return.
Check out our blog’s healthy living section for more healthy tips.
Also, learn about all the health care services we provide at Mercy Health.