History Of Eating Eggs – When Did It All Start?

Humans have eaten eggs for the past six million years or so, pretty much as long as there have been people. There is a lot of protein in eggs and they are easy to find. You just have to find a nest and hope the momma bird isn’t around! In India and China people were keeping chickens for eggs by around 7000 BC so they didn’t have to hunt for eggs in the wild. They had a regular supply of eggs from their chickens.

Now chicken eggs weren’t popular in Europe, Egypt or West Asia until about 800 BC or Africa until 500 AD. In those places geese and ducks were kept for eggs instead. Egyptian and Chinese chicken farmers incubated eggs in warm clay evens, allowing the hen to lay more eggs rather than sitting on those already laid. Because this made eggs cheaper to produce, more people began to eat them and they got more and more popular.

Eggs Used to Be Seasonal

Chickens only used to lay eggs during the springtime when it was light and warm but not too hot, hence Easter eggs which celebrate eggs during the springtime. Other spring ingredients like chives and asparagus are popular in egg recipes since they would be in season at the same time. These days eggs are produced year-round because hens are kept in air-conditioned, electrically lit barns, so the light and temperature are both controlled.

Ways to Prepare Eggs

Since eggs have been eaten for millions of years, they were first eaten raw. Once man discovered fire though, they would roast them in the coals. Eggs were boiled 7000 years ago in pottery and hard-boiled eggs were a popular snack in ancient Rome. Eggs were also used in custards, cakes and breads. They would keep for about 4 weeks unless pickled in vinegar and saltwater.

The Chinese would pickle eggs to make them longer. Despite calling them ‘thousand year eggs’ they are only weeks or months old. Eggs are washed in the US so they have to be refrigerated. Outside the US they aren’t washed so they can either be refrigerated or kept at room temperature.

Eggs can be fried, poached, scrambled, turned into an omelet or frittata, added to cookies, breads or cakes, used in special fried rice or curries, or used in another way. So many recipes, both sweet and sour, call for eggs as an ingredient. Choose from little quail eggs, regular chicken eggs or larger varieties like duck eggs or ostrich eggs. You can use whole eggs or just the white to make egg white omelets or meringues.


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