On one camping trip with friends, Larissa Carson was proud to be able to make breakfast for her whole group — four hungry campers — by using just one egg. Nope, they weren’t on the latest fad diet; she simply used an ostrich egg. This oversized orb is roughly the equivalent of about two dozen chicken eggs. “An ostrich egg tastes similar to a chicken egg, but it weighs about three pounds,” says Carson, a former employee at Highland Farm in Germantown.
The farm, which was established more than three decades ago, has been raising ostriches for eggs and meat (“which is a lean red meat and tastes like an earthy steak,” says Carson) for over 10 years. They currently have a small herd of 18 birds, and the typical female lays a few eggs a week between April and September, according to sales manager Claire MacNamara. Eggs can be purchased for $25 at the Rhinebeck, Hudson, Copake Hillsdale, Kingston, Woodstock, and Coxsackie farmers’ markets.
In addition to eating ostrich eggs, many customers want to keep the shell — which measures five inches in diameter and has a thickness similar to porcelain — for decoration or crafts. “You can use a power drill to make quarter-inch holes on the top and bottom and blow out the egg, keeping the shell intact,” Carson says. The contents can be used right away or stored in a sealed container and refrigerated or frozen. Carson knows of one woman who stores the egg in ice trays; the contents stay fresh, and she has perfect portions. “It’ll last in the fridge about week or so; when you’re ready to use, just shake and pour,” says former manager Mike Ruffell. “They’re fluffier than chicken eggs and taste great scrambled.” According to the American Ostrich Association, it takes about one-and-a-half hours to hard-boil an ostrich egg.
“People come up to us at farmer’s markets and say, ‘Wow, I bet that makes a big omelet.’ But there are so many other ways to use the eggs: quiche, frittata, mousse,” Carson says. “A pastry chef at Terrapin once used one of our eggs to make 170 brioches.”