[Sca-cooks] Storing eggs through Lent, WAS Re: Hi again everyone!!!

Patricia Dunham chimene at ravensgard.org
Fri Apr 3 11:14:51 PDT 2009

>Meanwhile, back in the Middle Ages, it's late Lent, period food is 
>borrring right about now, running out of stockfish and almonds and 
>looking longingly at eggs and cheese.  Say, what did they do about 
>laying hens anyway?  You can make cheese out of milk, but what did 
>they do with the steady supply of perishable eggs?

1. My immediate reaction to "preserve eggs" is "isinglass", aka 
"water glass".  I do NOT know how period this is.  Isinglass is a 
sort of liquidy jelly-like substance, made from ... the swimbladders 
of fish, esp sturgeon, esp Beluga sturgeon.  In a barrel or cask or 
crock, depending on your supply. The isinglas keeps oxygen from 
getting to them and staling them, I think.  In your regular cold 
cellar, of course, not difficult during Lenten weather in northern 
Europe.  And, of course, you do NOT wash the eggshell before the egg 
goes in the goop.

Hmm, how common would BELUGA swimbladders have been in SCA-Europe in 
period...?  Maybe not isinglass.  Common isinglas today uses cod; the 
substitution was invented in 1795, because of the cost and difficulty 
of importing Russian sturgeon derivatives. (Wiki Isinglas article)

2. Pickling season = Lent???  The Wiki article on eggs says 
vinegar-pickled eggs should keep for a year without refrigeration! 
No pickling allowed in my house, however.  Wiki also mentioned 
salting; and I saw something somewhere about simply boiling them, 
peeling and storing in plain water.  Safe water is an issue in 

3. Google also turned up this : 
	"a book from the library by Clarissa Dickson Wright (one of 
the Two Fat Ladies) and this is what she says about storing a glut of 

'Preserving: Eggs to be preserved whole in the shell should be clean 
and dry, but do not wash them as the shell is porous and this 
practise can cause disease. Instead, wipe them with a damp cloth and 
then a dry one. You can then rub them with buttered paper or liquid 
paraffin so that all air is excluded and they will keep for six 
months or longer.'

Butter or soft beeswax would certainly have been available in period, 
for the anti-oxygen sealing...

Now, can anyone document any of these, beyond "common sense"??


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