Students on the Sustainable Food Management degree programme are working on two research projects focusing on using insects as a source of food. Their work has resulted in the development of a concept for an innovative drying plant for maggots and a recipe for a waffle snack using flour made from crickets.
In parts of Asia they’ve been on the menu for years whereas in the Western World people still tend to be somewhat sceptical when they come across them as food ingredient. Yet insects could, due to their nutritional value and especially because they’re an excellent source of protein, in future play an important role in feeding the world’s population – be it in the form of animal feed, e.g. in fish farming or as a food ingredient.
The EU project PROteINSECT, led by the UK’s Ministry for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, encourages the use of insects as a sustainable source of protein. As part of a student competition focusing on breakthroughs in this particular area, Simon Schantl from the Sustainable Food Management degree programme successfully took the lead, outshining his fellow international competitors with his concept ENTODRYA, a system for drying maggots. His drum dryer uses steam from a combined heat and power unit to dry the maggots, producing maggot flour, which subsequently falls onto a conveyor belt and is collected. The flour can be used as animal feed or in food products.
In her Bachelor’s thesis Agnes Böhm, a student on the Sustainable Food Management degree programme, examined the use of cricket flour as a baking ingredient. The trained confectioner investigated the optimum mixing ratio of wheat flour and insect flour in the industrial production of a waffle snack. In the course of her research, Agnes Böhm varied the percentage of cricket flour used in the waffle as well as gradually adjusting the cricket flour filling to achieve the best possible results. The research showed that, using the perfect mixing ratio, a tasty and high-protein waffle snack is suitable for a pilot production phase, subject of course to relevant regulatory requirements. Seasoning used in the recipe was specially adjusted to bring out the taste of the insects.
The test runs for the waffle snack were carried out in cooperation with Haas Food Equipment GmbH in Leobendorf near Vienna.