I've spent half a century (yikes) writing for radio and print—mostly print. I hope to be still tapping the keys as I take my last breath.
Surviving in the wilderness may come down to a piece of knowledge you picked up along the way and quickly forgot until a crisis suddenly brings it to mind. Sort of like which bears can’t climb trees—black or brown? It’s black bears. Got it? Black bears. Also, polar bears can’t climb trees, but as there are no trees in places where bears of the polar persuasion live, that’s of little consequence. But, trust me on the black bears—I think.
First You Need an Ostrich Egg
Obviously, before you can cook an ostrich egg, you have to get your hands on one, and that’s not always easy. I would suggest not looking in Michigan’s Northern Peninsula or Scotland’s Cairngorm Mountains. The tourist departments for neither of these regions mention ostriches. Not even in the fine print.
So, what to do? Right. Amazon. Well, what do you know? I’ve finally stumped the big A.
They’ve got Ostrich Egg Shells ($114.53 with free shipping), Styrofoam Ostrich Eggs ($5.25 each), and Decorative Ostrich Egg Etched With Vinegar ($573.09). But, no fresh ostrich eggs.
However, the Exotic Meat Markets steps up to fill the gap. They will send you one (1) California-raised ostrich egg for $99.99. But shop about a bit, and you will find that Fossil Farms in New Jersey offers the product at $45.00 each. But, they are a seasonal item not readily available in the winter.
However, you may have an ostrich farm nearby. There are a few hundred in the United States and the United Kingdom, and they are dotted all over Canada, Australia, and elsewhere. The farmers will be happy to sell you an egg. Very happy, it seems, because there are some articles online that describe ostrich farming as “precarious.”
Ostrich Egg Facts
- Being the world’s biggest bird, albeit flightless, it comes as no surprise they lay the world’s biggest bird eggs.
- The eggs weigh up to three pounds and are six inches in diameter.
- One ostrich egg is the equivalent of about 24 chicken eggs.
- Ostriches lay their eggs in communal nests that hold as many as 60 at a time; both males and females do incubation duty.
- From the Safari Ostrich Farm, Oudtshoorn, South Africa, we learn that “An ostrich egg contains approximately 2,000 calories, 47 percent protein and 45 percent fat.” But you’re not going to eat it in one go are you? Are you?
- “Ostrich eggs contain less vitamin E and vitamin A than that of a chicken egg. [However], ostrich eggs... are richer in magnesium and iron than chicken eggs.”
- To break the shell there’ll be no cracking it on the lip of a pan; you’re going to need a chisel and hammer. So those little critters inside must have beaks like pneumatic drills.
And, that brings us to the whole point of this biological and culinary excursion.
Methods for Cooking an Ostrich Egg
You’re going to need to set aside an hour for soft, 90 minutes for hard, and have a large pot. Once you’ve chain-sawed the lid off, you and family and friends can sit around the table and dip soldiers into the yoke. (For non-Brits, "soldiers" are slices of toast about an inch wide.)
Most of the authorities in the culinary art of ostrich egg cooking recommend against frying. It’s an infrastructure issue; you’re going to need giant utensils. If you’ve got a big enough skillet it will take about 25 minutes for a sunny-side-up monster.
This seems to be the preferred method. Chef Lynn Crawford advises “If you ever want to challenge yourself to cook an ostrich egg, scrambling is the simplest preparation. You can coax the liquid interior from a small hole without worrying about keeping the yolk intact. A small hole also preserves more of the shell for later use as a serving dish.”
And, of course, it tastes like chicken.
Myth or Reality?
Many years ago, when I lived in Africa, I picked up a yarn that intrigued me. It was purveyed by a gin-soaked old codger in a pub and speaks to the need for bushcraft knowledge that started out this article.
The man had “expert at surviving in the bush” written all over him; he was probably an encyclopedia of knowledge about how to avoid getting bitten, poisoned, trampled, stung, or eaten by inhabitants of the African plains.
“Suppose,” he said, “that you are alone in the Serengeti and you are hungry. Perhaps, you come across an ostrich egg. Before you pick it up, check to make sure there are no parents lurking about. If an ostrich sees you abducting its next of kin it’s likely to get grumpy. You don’t want that to happen because an ostrich can deliver a kick that can prove fatal.”
The old fellow appeared to re-arrange something in his left nostril, ordered another three fingers of gin, and continued.
“Next, you’re going to need an elephant. Not just any elephant, but one that’s just taken a dump. And, I mean just; fresh elephant dung is very hot.” He looked at me quizzically. “Can you see where this is going?” I said I thought I could.
“Right,” he said. “You stuff the ostrich egg into the pile of steaming poop. Find a baobab tree to sit under and wait for 90 minutes or so, making sure all the while that nothing is scoping you out as a possible lunch item.”
After the hour and a half have passed you’ve got breakfast, lunch, and supper all wrapped up in one neat package. All you have to do is open it.
Just as Amazon has proved a disappointment as a provider of ostrich eggs so the Internet has failed to confirm this story. I leave it to the reader to decide on its plausibility.
Cooking an Ostrich Egg in Elephant Dung
- No. Ostriches do not bury their heads in the sand. However, if they feel threatened, they do lie down. So, with a head and neck that have a similar colour to sand, it might look as though they stick their heads underground.
- By the way, elephant dung when burnt is an excellent mosquito repellent.
- “Ostrich Eggs for Food.” Exotic Meat Market, undated.
- Fossil Farms.
- “Ostrich Facts: The World’s Largest Bird.” Alina Bradford, Live Science, September 17, 2014.
- Safari Ostrich Farm.
- “How to Cook an Ostrich Egg (and 8 Reasons Why You Should).” Penny Alexander, Wayfair.co.uk, undated.
- “Lynn Crawford on How to Cook an Ostrich Egg.” Devon Scoble, Food Network, February 1, 2016.
© 2018 Rupert Taylor
Liz Westwood from UK on November 28, 2018:
Thanks, Rupert. I had no idea they were so readily available in the UK.
Rupert Taylor (author) from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada on November 27, 2018:
Liz. According to a June 2018 article in the Sun (sorry but that’s where Google sent me) Waitrose is now selling ostrich eggs for £19.99 that are supplied, in limited quantity, by a farm in Lincolnshire. Also, Florentine restaurant in Lambeth is where the giant ostrich egg breakfast is served.
Liz Westwood from UK on November 27, 2018:
I will have to take your word for it, as I think I will struggle to get one in the UK.
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on November 27, 2018:
You can really see how big an Ostrich egg is compared to a normal sized egg. I've never tried an Ostrich egg before, but would certainly like to.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on November 26, 2018:
This is informative, interesting, wild, entertaining and more. Thanks for something out of the ordinary.
Rupert Taylor (author) from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada on November 26, 2018:
Mr. Happy. The White Rock Ostrich Farm is near Rockwood, West of Milton, outside Toronto. They have a website.
Amazon does not supply ostrich eggs. I think it’s the only product the company doesn’t carry.
Camel milk? Hmmm.
Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on November 26, 2018:
Ya, I am concerned just like Mr. Wesman about Amazon and their eggs. I tend not to trust gigantic corporations. For them, we're just numbers. I also do not like making wealthy corporations wealthier. I never spent a penny at Wallmart (in my entire life) and as of this year Amazon will not get a penny from me either. They will need to improve a lot for their workers, for me to spend a penny on their website.
I am interested in Ostrich Eggs though and maybe one day, I'll come across one. Ordering one from a small farm in New Jersey also sounds more enticing for me than Amazon.
Anyway that's my two cents, once again lol
Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on November 26, 2018:
I've always got some frozen burritos for the times when I don't want to put effort into anything, and still need to eat.
So I know exactly what I'd do with one. Scrambled, diced onions, tomatoes, and peppers. Then the question would be do I add beans or sausage? I'd roll some burritos.
You'd really consider having one of those shipped from amazon? I guess they'd know how to ship an egg if anyone would.
Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on November 26, 2018:
That 4th photo You put up is priceless! Check out that look - not impressed with our human behavior! lol jk: )
I had to read this. I love to cook and You never know when You come around to an Ostrich Egg. I gotta be prepared lol
Thank You for your article. Is the next one (article) on camel milk? Haha! Cheers!