Cicadas, the flying insects that burrow themselves underground and only appear once every 17 years, have made their return to Northeastern United States. This invasion typically lasts for six weeks, at which point cicadas go on “extended vacation."
In the meantime, people are finding that they can be more than just a nuisance. One of their more interesting applications is in food.
Adult cicadas are a gluten-free, low-fat, low-carb source of protein. They’re “like Hershey’s Kisses falling from the sky” for some, says Gene Kritsky, a cicada expert at Cincinnati’s College of Mount St. Joseph.
One bakery taking full advantage of cicada season is Rising Creek Bakery in Mount Morris, Pennsylvania. This innovative establishment is making special cookies and custard with them. They freeze the cicadas, remove their wings, and coat them in sugar before placing them on top of a chocolate chip cookie or custard with caramel sauce.
While that may seem less than pleasant to some, many consider cicadas a fine nutritional source. “They don’t have too much flavor themselves, so you flavor them and add them to other things,” says Rising Creek Bakery owner Jenny Bardwell. “They’re high in protein and low in carbs and fats.”
The seven-year-old bakery has also experimented with other foods such as an omelet with avocado and “a cicada crunch sprinkle.”
Bardwell says that she took about 100 of these cookies to the Morgantown (WV) Cicada Festival at West Virginia University last weekend where several cicada dishes were served.
How do they taste? One consumer was quoted as saying that the cookie resembled a “sea salt and chives chip.”