How to clean an emu eggshell

Last fall, our female emu, Mel (short for Melbourne), finally started laying eggs! After 6 years of keeping emus, we were thrilled. I enjoy cooking with the contents (recipes coming soon), and making beautiful jewelry with the shells. But what is the best way to drain and clean an emu eggshell? After much trial an error, here’s the method I use:

  1. Drill a 1/8-1/4″ hole in one end with a rotary tool
    Single hole in egg
  2. Pump air into the hole. I use a cheap balloon pump with tubing I found at our local re-use nonprofit The Scrap Exchange and a cocktail straw/stirrer.
    Egg with pump Egg draining Drained egg
  3. Fill the empty shell with a bleach solution.
  4. Scrape the inside of the shell with bamboo skewers and wire hooks to loosen the inner membrane.
    Scraping eggshell
  5. Remove the pieces of membrane by pulling it out with hooks and forcing water into the shell. This takes a lot of time and practice.Egg membrane Egg membrane
  6. Rinse the egg and pump out the water. Allow to dry.

Why do I remove the membrane? Because is gets pretty gross over time. No matter how much you rinse and clean the shell, yolk and white stick to the membrane. I didn’t remove it from the first few eggs I drained, and I later found that it turned yellow and brown in places and stained the inside of the egg. It also made it very hard to get a clean edge when cutting into the shell. That is why I think it is worth the effort. It may be impossible to remove every scraps of membrane, but removing as much as I can seems to help the shells keep their color and quality.

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