HOW TO FIND EGGS IN THE WILD… AND WAYS TO COOK THEM

Quail eggs!

Quail eggs!

This article is a guide to finding and cooking eggs in the wilderness. We’ve already covered how to find edible bugs and plants, and compared to these foraging for eggs is a simpler, safer process (in that you’re much less likely to end up poisoned ;)).

Eggs are a near perfect form of nutrition, and should be taken advantage of in survival situations. They are high in protein, as well as omega 3s and healthy fats. They are a good source of Riboflavin, Vitamin B12, Phosphorus and Selenium.

They are so good in fact, that I once read that all you would need to eat is eggs and tomatoes to receive all of the essential nutrients you needed to survive. Whether true or not, it illustrates the point- eggs are awesome, and often overlooked in survival literature.

So let’s learn how to find eggs in the wild, and how to prepare them.

Disclaimer: This advice is only intended for a situation where law and order are no more. Eating eggs from wild birds is illegal in many places, so always check your local laws before attempting to disturb nests.

BIRD EGGS

The good news is, nearly all bird eggs found in North America and Europe are edible, in all stages of development.  Of course chicken eggs are hugely popular to eat, but some other common bird eggs we eat are ostrich, ducks, emu, goose, gull, peacock, pelican, pheasant, quail, and turkey eggs. And the truth is, in a pinch any type will do.

Most birds lay their eggs in nests, often found in trees. So here’s a gallery to give you an idea of what some of them look like: http://birding.about.com/od/birdprofiles/ig/Wild-Bird-Nests/

Duck eggs by a pond.

Duck eggs by a pond.

Not all birds make nest in trees, though. Wild chickens lay their eggs among ferns and vines, or other shelter. Ducks will lay their eggs in a secluded area around a body of water. Their eggs are slightly larger than chicken eggs, with a waxier, more rubbery feel.

Preparation

If you have a frying pan or some kind of cooking equipment, you are in luck. You can scramble them, make them over easy, or toss in some veggies and do an omelet.

If it’s a survival situation though, you may not have these tools, and that’s fine. There’s a way to cook eggs that require nothing more than a survival knife and a twig.

Use your knife to gently tap a hole on the fat end of the egg, about the size of a nickel. Gently insert the twig into this hole, to pierce the yolk. If you don’t do this, the egg is in danger of exploding. Entertaining, sure, but it’s not helping getting you fed.

Place your egg, hole up, on some coals near the fire, close enough to be heated nicely but far enough to not burn. Chicken eggs or those of similar size will take about 10 minutes until they are ready. Rotate half way through to ensure it cooks full through. Larger ones like goose eggs will take around 20 minutes, while smaller one like quail eggs will take just 5 minutes.

If you’d like to go further into this, here is a page with various recipes for exotic egg recipes: http://www.sheknows.com/food-and-recipes/articles/819694/Egg-Recipes

REPTILE AND AMPHIBIAN EGGS

A turtle laying eggs in the soil.

A turtle laying eggs in the soil.

But why limit yourself to just bird eggs? Reptile eggs are out there as well, and in some situations may make a good food source. They are definitely trickier though, as smaller eggs (frogs, etc) are generally not worth your time, while larger ones tend to be attached to, well, larger animals.

For instance, alligator eggs are edible and a great size. The problem is, alligators are very protective of their eggs and I DO NOT RECOMMEND you go after them.

Snake eggs are a good size as well, and if you can find them are a good option, as long the snake that laid them isn’t a dangerous one (again, they are protective of their eggs).

Iguana eggs are good, and if you can find them make a great option.

Turtle eggs are another great choice, although many turtle eggs are protected by law and you may face steep punishment for messing them. Don’t go after turtle eggs unless it is a life-or-death situation or you are well versed in the laws of your region.

Turtles lay their eggs on the coast of a body of water (both sea and fresh water turtles exist). During late spring they usually bury their eggs in sandy, elevated areas that are clear or obstacles, so their young can make it to the water when hatched.

Most of the reptiles and amphibians discussed here lay eggs with hard shells, so preparation is similar to that of bird eggs.

FISH EGGS

If we’re going to scale trees and fight lizards to find eggs in the wild, we may as well explore the option of the much more pedestrian fish eggs. Fish eggs are small, but are often found in bunches, making looking for them a fruitful endeavor. Fish eggs are considered a delicacy in many parts of the world.

Sturgeon is the most popular form of fish eggs, but some other common ones are Cod, Hake, Herring, Mullet, Salmon, Steelhead, and Striped Bass.

Fish eggs can be prepared many different ways, including boiled, baked, dried or fried. They can be preserved through drying, making caviar or through fermenting.

Bottarga is a popular form of drying fish eggs. It involves salting and then often grounding the eggs to make seasoning.

Here is a guide to making bottarga: http://fishcooking.about.com/od/smokebrine/ss/bottarga_all.htm

And here is a list of bottarga recipes: http://www.bottargaclub.com/Bottarga_Recipes.html

And finally, here is a guide to making caviar: http://honest-food.net/2009/12/02/how-to-make-caviar/

So get out there, and go find some eggs!

 

FOR RELATED ARTICLES, CHECK OUT HOW TO FIND EDIBLE INSECTS AND HOW FIND EDIBLE PLANTS.

Good luck and stay prepared!

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Comments

  1. Sue Dougherty says:

    This activity is illegal and may result in a hefty fine and prison sentence. It’s a Federal offence! Don’t do!

    • Which activity, exactly? I mentioned that there are many laws regarding turtle eggs, and one should be aware of them (or be in a life-or-death situation) before touching the eggs.

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