How To Make Your Own Dried Mealworms
Dried mealworms are a preferred food choice for a large assortment of animals including turkeys, chickens, turtles, frogs, rats, bats, goldfish and nearly every bird. They are high in both amino acids and protein and although live mealworms have to be stored in your refrigerator, the dried variety does not and they last for well over a year.
Many people choose to simply keep live ones on hand because they will continuously reproduce when they are provided with the proper environment but once you get so many of them, you have to start free-roasting them to preserve for future use. Dried mealworms not only last a lot longer, they take much less room to store. Not to mention, this process also preserves the protein.
To get started making your own dried mealworms you will need mature species, disposable roasting pans, cornmeal, powdered calcium supplement and a grill.
- Gather at least 1,000 larvae from your colony and place them in a plastic container of appropriate size. To use as a reference, a 2-guart container is adequate for 5,000 of them.
- Cover the container up so it is secure and place it in your freezer. This is the most humane way of killing them as they are typically all dead within 15 minutes. If you take the container out and any are still moving, freeze for a little longer.
Turn your grill on the lowest setting and give it time to preheat. If you happen to be using a charcoal grill, adjust the vents accordingly.
- Cover the bottom of your disposable roasting pans with a layer of cornmeal. This will stop the dried mealworms from all sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Take the plastic container of mealworms out of the freezer and pour them in the roasting pans. Spread them out in a nice even layer so they all cook the same.
- Place the pans on the grill and close the cover. If you don't have a cover on your grill, cover the pans with aluminum foil and create a vent.
- Making your own dried mealworm is a long process so plan on cooking these for about five hours. Check on them from time to time and give them a good shake to loosen them up as they cook, they should be getting darker.
- When they are a nice dark golden brown color, take them off the heat and set them aside somewhere to cool.
- Once your dried mealworms are cool, place them in a plastic bag and add your supplement powder. Shake them really good so the powder evenly covers them all.
- Transfer them to a container with a lid and store in a cool, dry area. Always shake off any excess supplement powder before using as food.
To ensure the quality of your dried mealworms, you need to start with a healthy product. They are high in phosphorus but deficient in calcium so you need to balance their diet while they are still alive to make sure the food that you are feeding your pet is full of all the nutrients that they need.
You will need vegetables, fruits, plastic containers and bowls, calcium powder and bran cereal. Begin by lining either a plastic container or a jar with bran cereal and place the mealworms on top. Next, cut up some fresh vegetables and fruits such as carrots, yams and apples into one inch chunks and sprinkle vitamin D and calcium powder on them. Add this to the container with the mealworms and they will feed on it.
Avoid putting them in the fridge right away because they eat a whole lot more at room temperature so at least leave them out for a little while. Replenish the supply of fruits and vegetables every couple of days and add more bran once a week or as needed.
When feeding mealworms to animals, you need to keep in mind that they will still require an alternate calcium source for them to have a well-balanced diet.