On a late season prickly pear harvesting trip, my friend Nicole and I found few tunas but lots of grasshoppers. I’ve always wanted to try chapulines, but never had the opportunity. Nicole learned how to harvest them this summer, so we attempted ourselves.
Catching them is the trick! When the sun is up, they are fast. We managed to flush some out of the grass into a clearing, toss a big straw hat over one, and grab it by hand. We bagged three, not even enough for one taco. As the sun set, they stopped jumping but were too hard to see in the grass in the low light. We returned with nets. In the cool early morning they weren’t active enough to jump into the nets but were easier to see; we tossed the net over one, and grabbed it by hand. As the day warmed, they got too fast for that method, and sweeping the grass with the net was more successful. Yes, it’s slow, but fun. Plus a beautiful day in the desert.
Nicole fashioned an way to hold our catch without letting any escape when we caught another.
Here they are inside. While they hopped around, they emptied their digestive tracts.
At home we put the whole container in the freezer.
Then we picked them out of the grass seeds and debris. So beautiful.
We melted a little duck fat a cast iron pan and fried the chapulines.
This is when they turned from animals to food, and the only moment in the process that made me a little uncomfortable. We let them get really crispy.
But after all that work, I needed to at least try them. Nicole knew from previous experience to eat the small ones whole, but remove the wings and legs from the larger ones.
YUM!!!! Crispy fried meat. Then we dusted them with Mano Y Metate mole powder, of course.
Delicious, abundant, local, free. We’ll do that again!