Thursday, 17 December 2009

Powdered egg

Powdered egg has long been thought World War II's "housewife's staple". So many recipes contain egg, but before the days of battery farming of hens (now itself fortunately dying away again), eggs weren't produced in the shelves-full quantities we now expect.

Add in the difficulties in transporting eggs from the country to the cities and eggs' short shelf life, and you've got a problem with getting protein to the people.

Powdered egg solved this. By drying out the egg contents, you could transport vast quantities without all the smashing, even up the supply along the "fair shares" principle of rationing and store it in tins almost indefinitely.

Needless to say, people hated it. It's really not the same thing at all: you can just about scramble it, and it'll do you an omelette, assuming you can add something else to unblandify it, but you can't have a fried egg butty with powdered egg. But for cooking with, in cakes and anything else needing binding, it was invaluable. When the new Labour government came in in 1945, they stopped production of the powdered egg and the import of the American cans, believing wrongly that shell eggs would soon return. The Conservatives got a Mrs Lovelock to form the Housewives' League to campaign for it to come back, and pretty soon had women all over the country voting to the right, rather than the centre-left they'd done since getting the vote, a situation that has only changed since 1997.

Just occasionally, I've found powdered egg on sale in the UK still, in small quantities from what used to be Supercook. But the local supermarkets don't see a market for it, as I've not found any for this experiment. Until today, when I went into the local healthfood store. I went there last about 5 years ago and it was all supplements and pulses. Now, I discover that they do a lot more vegan foodstuffs. Far too late for me, I've found online suppliers of everything. Except powdered egg-free egg. And now I've got some.

I've been egg intolerant for a couple of years, so the prospect of an omelette is pleasing me no end. Whether CJBS will be pleased at a month of powdered not-quite egg instead of real local free-range eggs... well, what he doesn't know won't harm him.


peezedtee said...

My mother used to claim that all the powdered egg came from China. After she was bombed out of London she lived near the Ovaltine factory in Kings Langley and she said that vans kept drawing up with "Chinese egg powder" on the side, which, come to think of it, quite likely does still form part of Ovaltine.

Anonymous said...

america got its powdered eggs from canada during ww2