This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
In an egg laid only a few hours before, the white is milky, which circumstance sometimes leads to such egg being erroneously considered stale. When an egg has been newly laid it is always damp, and observation shows that the longer it remains wet, or is kept thus, by so much does it remain fresh; obviously, therefore, eggs for preservation should be packed wet. The fats of egg yolk differ chemically from ordinary fats, they also contain a large measure of phosphorus, which is easy of assimilation. But the absence of other carbohydrates (starch, sugar, etc.) prevents eggs from being in any sense a complete food. It would moreover require twenty of them daily to supply even the amount of proteid necessary for a healthy man. The egg shell is mainly carbonate of lime; that of the ostrich's egg is so thick, and hard, that it may seriously wound a man if the egg becomes rotten and explodes by reason of its compressed gases produced by decomposition.
"Dumptius in muro sedet teres, atque rotundus, Humptius, heu! cecidit; magna ruina fuit. Non homines, non regis equi - miserabile dictu! Te possunt sociis reddere, Dumpti, tuis".
In a boiled egg no air can come into contact with its nutriment until the same is broken for eating, which is an antiseptic security. Eggs are specially rich in fat, and therefore they satisfy the stomach. The ovo-lecithin constituent is chemically the distearo-glycero-phosphate of choline, and embodies phosphorus in its most readily assimilable form, as found in nature; it is admirably calculated to recruit exhausted nerve centres, and to renovate from nerve fag. Concentrated tablets thereof are now made reliably by the manufacturing chemist. The yolk fats differ chemically from ordinary fats, being in reality phosphatides; they exist as palmitin, stearin, and olein, just as in butter. A subcutaneous administration of egg yolk has recently been practised for cases of defective nutrition in infants, and as a substitute for lecithin. The injection, prepared by mixing the yolk of an egg with one-third of its weight of a saline solution, is made into one of the buttocks, and gentle massage is employed afterwards.
The general nutrition, and the quality of the blood, are stated to improve more rapidly under this treatment than under lecithin taken as food.
For egg and sherry as a cordial of prompt use, with ready support, beat up an egg in a cup with a fork till it froths, add a lump of white sugar first dissolved in two tablespoonfuls of water, mix well, then pour in a wineglassful of dry sherry, and serve before it becomes flat; or half the quantity of pale brandy may be used in place of the sherry.
The proper cooking degree of heat for boiling a fowl's egg is only one hundred and sixty degrees Fahrenheit, or fifty-two degrees below boiling point. If two eggs are taken, one of which is kept in water at a temperature of one hundred and seventy-five degrees for ten or fifteen minutes, and the other for an equal length of time in boiling water, it will be found at the end of the experiment that the contents of each egg are solid throughout, but that in the case of the former they consist of a tender jelly, whereas in the boiled egg they are dense, and almost leathery.
For delicate persons of all ages, the following preparation, which will contain egg shells in solution, has been found most singularly useful. Take six fresh eggs, six lemons, half a pound of castor sugar, and half a pint of white rum. Put the eggs in their shells inside a jar, without injuring the shells, peel the lemons, and, after removing their pith, squeeze the fresh juice over the eggs, then lay above them the rind and the pulp. Cover the jar lightly, and put it in a cool place for seven days, not forgetting to shake it well on each day. At the end of that time strain through muslin, when it will be found that the lemon juice has dissolved the eggshells. Add the sugar, and the rum; then bottle and cork it tightly. A wineglassful taken each morning before breakfast is the full dose, but at first it may be desirable to give only half this quantity. Again, for the cure of certain weaknesses in women, egg shells when properly prepared are highly lauded in America. The shells are first broken up in vacuo, and then finely powdered in a mortar together with two-thirds of finely powdered sugar of milk.
Dr. Edson tells of seventy consecutive cases treated thereby without a single failure.
An "egg foam" which can be quickly prepared, as in America, is particularly suitable for the passing needs of invalids: Separate one egg, keeping the yolk unbroken in half the shell, whilst beating all the white to a stiff froth. Heap this latter in a dainty little bowl, or egg cup, and make a small well in the centre, into which drop the yolk. Then stand the whole in a saucepan containing a little boiling water, cover the saucepan, and cook for one minute. Serve in the bowl, with a tiny bit of butter, and a few grains of salt. The Germans call frothed white of egg "snow".
This froth is sweetened and scalded in milk, so as to become set. It then serves as the solid part of a refection whereat the liquid part is milk (perhaps with egg yolk). Such a dish, to be eaten with a spoon, is very refreshing at any time of the year, but particularly in summer, if it be well cooled. It is also a very excellent form of nourishment for persons who are suffering from one or another throat affection, or who have undergone some operation in the mouth or throat, and who cannot chew, or pulp with the tongue, but can yet drink the soft custard. A raw egg is not so easily assimilated after being swallowed as is one lightly boiled. The natural principles thereof are albumin, vitellin, lecithin, and nuclein. The egg albumin differs from that contained in the liquid serum of our blood as to certain physical properties, though closely allied to this. If the white of a newly laid egg be applied to a sore burn, or scald, it will keep out the air, and will do much to relieve the pain. Powdered egg shells will subdue acid indigestion from fermenting sour food in the stomach.