Extruded cereals made of wheat flour and grinded Yellow mealworm larvae (Tenebrio molitor) were produced to investigate the effect of insect inclusion (0%, 10%, 20%) and processing conditions (barrel temperature and screw speed) on their nutritional content, microstructure, texture and digestibility. Snacks enriched with 10% mealworm powder shifted their macronutrient composition towards a protein content high enough to claim the food as “source of protein” according to European food regulation. At 10% of enrichment, the adoption of high barrel temperature and screw speed significantly improved the microstructure, in terms of expansion and pore structure, delivering acceptable textural qualities. At 20% substitution, snacks showed poor expansion properties, mainly due to the presence of fat in the larvae. Starch and protein digestibility of were correlated with microstructure properties as a function of porosity, pore size and wall thickness. Interestingly, mechanical forces generated in extrusion likely improved the digestibility of T. molitor proteins which are tightly bound and sclerotized to the exoskeleton. Tailoring processing conditions and formulation insect ingredients can be successfully incorporated into extruded cereal snacks. Industrial relevance This study evaluated the nutritional and technological properties of extruded cereal snacks enriched with an edible insect powder (T. molitor). Results suggested that edible insects can be used as novel ingredient in extruded snacks and pointed out how processing conditions can modulate snack digestibility.
- Edible insects
- In vitro digestibility