August 16, 2005
A while back I asked if anyone knew how to dry out a raw egg so that it ended up with its yolk rattling inside like a Brazil nut. I knew it could be done because I had seen it, but my first experiment, with a City Market cage-free egg, ended up oozing, dripping and emitting odors most foul in my kitchen cupboard.To the rescue came an e-mail from Jacilyn Spuhler, teacher of Ukrainian egg-decorating in the valley, who advised as follows:”A raw egg is used. As long as the shell is sturdy and without flaw, the egg will eventually dry up on the inside and rattle. It takes about two years for that to happen using a regular chicken egg. The important issues:1. The egg should have a strong, unflawed shell.2. The egg should not be placed in direct sunlight while drying. (Heat accelerates the rotting of the insides and can cause an “explosion” that is indeed smelly.)3. Variations in temperature during the drying process aren’t recommended.”I bought a dozen free-range Paonia eggs from Kathy Woods at her Westwood Farms booth at the farmers market – eggs with very sturdy shells of a greenish color. I picked one with an interesting oblong shape and balanced it atop a small, ceramic vase in my oxygen room.The oxygen room is a small, dark bedroom where I store my oxygen tanks and related paraphernalia, the closest thing I have to a temperature-controlled environment in that, for reasons too complicated to explain here, it has no heat. I cleared off the top of the desk I placed it upon, lest it explode and contaminate my papers, and there it sat, my little, potentially lethal objet d’art.Easy to recommend stable temperatures, but the weather had other ideas. A couple of weeks in the 90s and even my dank little bedroom was more like a hothouse than a root cellar. Last week, two months into the experiment, I sniffed at the egg and detected the aura of sulfur. Like Chicken Little, I cried, “The egg is turning! The egg is turning!” My fears were pooh-poohed by friends, but when I brought in the final arbiters, the triumvirate of my daughters Skye and Hillery and my granddaughter Riley, all of whom can smell out anything from deception to a hint of mold, and their decision was unanimous: The egg was odoriferous.To our gasps, Hillery even picked up the egg, inspecting it for oozing. Finding none, the consensus (Hillery, who advised disposal, dissenting) was to leave it alone but to keep a close eye (and nose) on it. With the onset of cooler weather, the faint smell has already disappeared.I’ll cross the bridge of it freezing in the oxygen room if and when I come to it. Su Lum is a longtime local who won’t write any more about this unless something happens. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.