How to Open an Ostrich Egg

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If you happen to get your hands on an ostrich egg, don't be fooled by the passing resemblance to the familiar chicken egg. With a shell more than 10 times thicker, and a cooking time more appropriate for a bone-in joint, it takes some serious work to crack an ostrich egg.

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Shell Challenge

Ostrich eggs can withstand the forces of a 300-pound bird, so tapping away gently on a countertop makes little impression. Typically, the shell is 0.13 of an inch thick, not much thinner than a China cup, and the contents much more viscous.

To extract the contents in order to make, say, a scrambled egg, either break or perforate the shell.

Crack Open

Ostrich eggs have a fearsomly robust structure, so you first have to create a line of weakness in the shell. Score a line in the shell with a hacksaw or serrated bread knife, holding the egg still with your free hand, and resting the shell on a damp cloth or rubber mat to keep it steady.

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  • Once you have a distinct fissure in the shell's surface, insert the tip of a screwdriver or heavy chef's knife and tap it with a kitchen mallet. With a few gentle but judicious strikes, you should be able to force a crack in the shell.
  • Hold the egg over a large bowl and gradually pull it apart to release the contents.

Tip

This approach also breaks open a hard-boiled ostrich egg, but you need to allow the egg to cool in cold water first.

Drill Hole

In order to preserve the shell, which has a certain decorative value, you can also drill into the shell and force out the contents.

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  • Using a cordless power drill, make a ½-inch hole in the bottom of the shell and a smaller hole in the top. Without two holes, no amount of force will draw the yolk and white out of the shell.
  • Insert a chopstick or wooden skewer into the shell through one of the holes and whisk the inside vigorously to break up the yolk and white. Doing so will also pierce the thick membrane beneath the shell.
  • Once the contents are scrambled, close your mouth over the smaller top hole and gently blow, slowly forcing the egg out into a bowl.

Potential Culinary Problems

Although the typical ostrich egg is equivalent in volume to 24 chicken eggs, it is not a straightforward substitute in recipes where a large number of eggs are required.

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Not only does an ostrich egg take some two hours to hard boil, but the yolk is also likely to have a strong, sulfurous odor that many find repugnant.

The texture of cooked ostrich egg can also be bamboozling. The white or a hard-boiled egg can be rubbery or unappetizingly gelatinous when soft-boiled.

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