Friday, 5th June 2020
Food & Drink Article

This Month's Magazine


Well, if you are so hungry that you could eat an ox, what could you eat when you prefer chicken? An ostrich, of course! Says Sebastian Polinares.

Ostrich meat is now quite readily available at your local super market. You must have seen it; it is referred to as the alternative red meat because the colour and texture look very similar to beef.  One thing is certain, eating ostrich, you would be safe from mad cow disease.

Ostriches were first used commercially in South Africa in the mid 19th century, when the feathers were used in fashion and costuming as well as in feather dusters. Victim of  World War I, after the feather market crash in 1914, ostriches became a viable commodity for their leather and meat untill after World War II, when feathers came into demand again.

Ostrich meat, once only served locally in South Africa (fresh and dried), has long been served in gourmet restaurants in Europe. Demand is growing in the Pacific Rim and in the United States as a satisfying alternative for red-meat lovers. Ostrich meat has been served in the United States in fine restaurants since 1992.

Because of the fright over Mad Cow Disease ostrich meat has attained an increasing level of acceptance in France, Italy, Switzerland and Belgium. There is a lot of ostrich meat about these days and it is clear that someone is trying to sell it to us.

Although the meat looks just like beef, it is very lean. It is lower in calories and cholesterol and higher in iron than any other red meat. The absence of fat also means that it is lower in fat, cholesterol and calories than beef, pork, chicken and turkey and although this gives it a different texture to beef after cooking, it is very juicy and tender when cooked properly.

Research determined that ostrich muscles are tender or medium tender. Cuts rated tender should be grilled, broiled, fried or pan-fried. Medium tender cuts should be cooked in a sauce or braised. And, all cuts can be roasted, cured or cooked as kebab or stir fried.

Because of its low fat content, ostrich cooks faster than other meat products. Steaks and whole muscles should be cooked medium rare to medium (140°-160°). Cooking ostrich to well done is not recommended.
There used to be an ostrich farm right here on the Costa, on the N-340, just on the La Linea turn off, some of the veteran residents may well remember it. I believe it was closed down because it was being used as a scam for pyramid selling.

Ostriches can be raised successfully in many climates and conditions, however the birds are making a big difference for countries like China where land is limited, but the need for food is high. The birds are able to utilize wasteland better than any other meat animal. They eat grass and roughage and don’t compete for human food.

Ostriches are raised on small farms and on large ranches. Eggs are incubated and hatched. During the grow-out phase the birds may be kept in large paddocks. Breeders are kept in pairs, trios or colonies.

The ostrich association says neither the U.S. Department of Agriculture nor the Census Bureau tracks the ostrich population as they do other species of livestock, but based on a survey of its membership, the association estimates there are between 350,000 and 500,000 ostriches of all ages in the United States alone.


Some facts about ostriches:

They are of the Ratite family, which means flightless bird.

An Ostrich will live to be 50 - 75 years old.

The Ostrich is the largest living bird in the world.

Although an ostrich egg is the largest of all eggs,it is the smallest egg in relation to the size of the bird.

The Ostrich is native to Africa, yet thrives in countries all over the world.

The Ostrich egg will weigh 1600 gm and is equivalent to 2 dozen chicken eggs.

Adult males are eight to ten feet in height and weigh 350-400 pounds.

An Ostrich Hen can lay 40 -100 eggs per year, averaging about 60 eggs per year.

The male is black with white wing tips and tail plumes.

Ostrich eggs hatch in 42 days.

The female has light brown and grey plumage and is slightly smaller than the male.

An Ostrich chick grows one foot taller each month until it is 7-8 months old.

This great bird has two toes; all other birds have three or four toes.

Females sit on eggs by day;
males sit on eggs by night.

The Ostrich can run at speeds of up to 40 MPH for sustained times.

To soft boil a fresh egg would take one hour. To hard boil it would take 1 1/2 hours.

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