For centuries, bird’s nest has been a prized possession enjoyed by royalty.
Today, it continues to be a delicacy in Chinese culture savoured by many. How has this unique animal product survived changing times while retaining its popularity?
Stay with us till the end to find out.
What Are Edible Bird’s Nests?
Bird nests are the nests of swiftlet birds – to be precise, it’s the product of the male swiftlet’s edible saliva.
It’s harvested to make sweet dessert soup and is valued for its prized nutritional content and flavour.
Edible bird’s nests are rich in collagen, amino acids, glycoprotein, antioxidants, calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, and hormones.
Collagen and amino acids are the key building blocks of smooth skin, like leucine, lysine, glycine, glutamine, tyrosine, arginine, cysteine, histidine, and tryptophan. These are renowned for tissue regeneration and cell growth.
Bird’s nest is usually cooked with rock sugar into a dessert commonly called bird’s nest soup. As a luxury food that is highly desired for its benefits, it’s also used in other cooking methods such as drinks or cooked in some Chinese dishes.
There are even bird’s nest mooncakes that were launched in 2020.
The Benefits of Bird’s Nest
Due to the high levels of glycoprotein, collagen, amino acids, antioxidants, hormones, and various minerals like calcium, potassium, iron, and magnesium, the nests are treasured for many benefits.
It’s also used in skincare ointments to maintain youthful skin. Bird’s nest soup is highly recommended for:
- Pregnant ladies
- Mothers who gave birth recently
- Young children
- Sickly or weak individuals
- Patients recovering from surgeries
- Sports athletes
- Celebrities, actresses, and models who need to maintain youthful skin and looks
- Elderly seniors
The Chinese love this because of these health benefits:
- Boost the immunity system
- Improve healing and recovery
- Build-up body strength
- Improve their beauty
- Maintain youthful skin
Boosts Your Immunity System
Many mothers and grandmothers swear by bird’s nest soup’s improvement to the overall health and immunity of their beloved children and grandchildren.
This has been a traditional remedy since the ancient days of imperial China, where only the royal family and well-connected businessmen could savour the soup.
It’s also highly recommended for those who are recovering from illness or surgery operations. New mothers or pregnant ladies eat bird’s nests to get more amino acids for their bodies to build strength.
Bird’s Nest for Skin and Beauty
Scientific studies have proved that bird’s nest has a large amount of epidermal growth factor (EGF).
With the richness of collagen and amino acids, it’s no wonder that many women love bird’s nest to maintain their youthful skin.
How Should I Eat Bird’s Nest?
You should eat bird’s nest soup or dishes on an empty stomach. This is a type of tonic that’s meant to nourish our bodies, so an empty stomach is better to absorb all the minerals and nutrients.
Most Chinese eat bird’s nest as hot soup, boiled for hours with rock sugar, or chilled soup, but you can use honey instead.
There are many modern restaurants that use it as a twist in Asian cuisines. For example, there are egg tarts that use bird’s nests as fillings or chefs that add bird nests to jelly desserts.
There’s also congee porridge that uses bird’s nests as well as dishes that cook bird nests with scallops and mushrooms.
How Can I Prepare Bird’s Nest?
Soak the bird’s nests for four to eight hours, then steam or stew (double-boil) them for 15 minutes. Next, add in rock sugar or raw honey for five minutes for a sweet dessert.
How to Soak Bird’s Nest and for How Long?
Soak your bird’s nest for three to eight hours depending on the quality and type. Wild cave nests require at least 24 hours of soaking to soften.
Here are the directions:
- Place the bird’s nest in a bowl of cool and clean water, making sure the water covers the nest entirely. This allows the nest to have full contact with water and absorb the water fully.
- You may change the water once or twice during the soaking period.
- After three to eight hours, you can feel that it’s become softer and expanded in size.
- For natural nests, there may be a small amount of feather or debris so you can use a pair of tweezers to remove them. For ease, place the bird’s nest on a white cloth so you can see the dark feathers or debris easily.
- Use a strainer or netting to remove excess water.
- If there are still impurities, you can rinse the bird’s nest a few times, tearing small pieces of the nests to allow the impurities inside to be washed off.
How to Cook Bird’s Nest Soup?
All types of bird’s nests should be prepared with indirect heat (i.e., stewing or steaming).
One should take caution not to boil the nests. Place the bird’s nest bowl to be steamed or stewed.
The Chinese call this procedure “double boiling” where the bowl is placed on a metal stand in a pot of water. You boil the pot of water that steams the bird’s nest bowl.
How to Stew Bird’s Nest?
- The water in the stewing bowl must cover the entire bird’s nest and other ingredients. The water level should not be more than 70% of the stewing bowl’s full height because the water level will rise during cooking.
- Boil the pot of water (that is holding the stewing bowl of bird’s nest) and reduce the heat to a simmer.
- The active ingredient, the “mitogenic stimulation factor”, gets active around 80 degrees celsius (176 Fahrenheit). The effectiveness will be lost if the nest is boiled directly at more than 80 degrees celsius. Hence, once the pot of water boils, reduce the heat and let it simmer.
How Long Should I Boil Bird’s Nest?
You only need 15 minutes for the bowl of bird’s nest to cook once the pot of water boils and is left to simmer.
You may prefer to use an electronic stewing pot or slow cooker for convenience. Simply adjust the heat intensity to a low level.
You can keep it at a warm temperature too so that you can serve it to family members at any time.
Avoid using a microwave for bird’s nest soup as it applies heat directly to the nest and may damage the nutrients.
Bird’s Nest Soup Recipe
- 1 piece of bird’s nest (a whole nest of 8g for 1-2 servings)
- 1 bowl of water
- A few pieces of rock sugar to taste (you can use less sugar if you prefer it less sweet)
- An alternative of organic raw honey instead of sugar
Optional ingredients to add to improve the tonic:
- 4-5 pieces of red dates
- 4-5 pieces of dried longan
- 4-5 pieces of wolfberries
- 4-5 slices of Korean ginseng or American ginseng
- Bird nest comes in dried form. Soak it overnight for 8 hours. The end result is a soft, expanded, and fibrous gelatin mixture.
- If there are any impurities such as feathers, pluck them out with tweezers.
- Add the bird’s nest, one bowl of water, and other ingredients (such as red dates, dried longan, wolfberries or ginseng) into a small bowl and cover with a lid.
- Place the bowl into a large pot.
- Pour water into the pot while making sure half of your bowl is submerged in the water.
- Turn on the heat, and if you observe that the water in the large pot is boiling, cover the pot with a pot lid.
- Leave the pot to boil for fifteen minutes.
- Remove bird’s nest from heat and stir in organic honey or rock sugar to your preferred sweetness.
Once the soup is cooled, you can have it as a hot soup, or chill it in the fridge for a cold dessert!
Bird Nest Drinks
When the birds’ nest soup is cooled, you can bottle it as a refreshing drink later for the office or at home.
For the best effect, make sure the drink is full of bird’s nest and not just sugary water.
The best is to cook the birds’ nest drink yourself. If you prefer the convenience of bottled drinks, buy only bird’s nest drinks that contain real bird’s nest.
Birds Nest Soup Is Best Consumed on an Empty Stomach
In traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it is classified as a tonic. Ideally, it should be consumed before meals to allow the body better absorb its nutrients.
Bird’s Nest for Recovery in Illness
The glycoprotein and amino acids help in recovering from chronic illness. In traditional Chinese medicine, it may help respiratory ailments such as cough, phlegm, or asthma.
Do note that bird’s nest is not a medicine nor treatment for any specific illness. It’s a tonic to help the body recover and gain strength.
Bird’s Nest for the Elderly or Children
Bird’s nest contains essential glycoproteins, amino acids, and minerals that are essential for healthy development.
Children need it to develop and grow, and the elderly need it to recuperate and reduce ageing problems.
For example, birds nest is a traditional Chinese medicine relief for phlegm problems, chronic dry coughs, and fatigue.
It can also be used to stimulate the appetite, improve digestion, and stimulate bowel movement, all of which are essential bodily functions for kids and seniors.
Regular consumption of bird’s nest helps boost the body’s immune system and improve the function of the lungs and kidneys.
Are the Benefits of Bird’s Nest Good for Pregnancy?
Chinese traditional medicine shares that bird’s nest is nourishing and contains essential nutrients for pregnant ladies and breastfeeding mothers.
It’s rich in glycoprotein and amino acids that are the building blocks of cells. It’s also renowned for boosting the mother and child’s immune systems.
Bird’s nest is also safe and beneficial to eat during confinement.
What Are Some Benefits of Bird’s Nest In Pregnancy?
Bird’s nest is reputed to promote healthy growth to the fetus by stimulating cell growth, improving blood supply and strengthening the immune system.
It contains the following nutrients that are essential for mothers to be:
- The richness of collagen helps to relieve stretch marks during pregnancy and allows the mother to recover her smooth complexion after giving birth
- Threonine helps the mother to build up her collagen and elastin for her skin and stretch marks
- Glycine helps to reduce pre-eclampsia in pregnant ladies and reduce risks of neural tube defects in the fetus
- Tryptophan (a precursor of serotonin and melatonin) reduces fatigue, anxiety, and stress in mothers. It enhances the mother’s recuperation after birth and aids in growth for the child
- The amino acids present like leucine, phenylalanine, tyrosine, arginine, histidine, and proline help to build and recover body tissues
When Should Pregnant Ladies Eat Bird Nest?
Pregnant ladies should eat bird’s nests from the fourth month of their pregnancy. We recommend 5-10 g per serving (1 bowl of bird’s nest soup) for a pregnant lady every day, or at least once a week.
During the first three months of pregnancy (the first trimester), it’s not recommended to consume bird nests to allow the embryo to develop first.
Should I Eat Bird’s Nest After Giving Birth?
Yes, to absorb essential nutrients and to recover.
After an event that’s traumatic to the female body, the new mother needs to recuperate and recover from the blood loss.
There is also hormone imbalance from stress, lack of sleep, and a lowered immune system. The new mother is also expected to start breastmilk production to feed her baby.
Bird’s nest drinks or soups help mothers recover their smooth skin and relieve stretch marks.
Should I Eat Bird Nest While Breastfeeding?
Yes, bird’s nest has essential nutrients like the various amino acid that will help the mother in recovery.
It can help to improve breastmilk supply and we are aware of numerous scientific studies that show how this natural milk is recommended for babies.
Are There Any Side Effects of Consuming Bird Nest?
No, there are no side effects. While there have been rare instances of people allergic to bird’s nests, scientific research shows that no other harmful side effects have ever been recorded.
What Are Some Bird’s Nest Benefits for My Skin?
Threonine helps in the building of collagen and elastin that helps in keeping the skin youthful and radiant. Ladies who eat bird’s nest regularly have more beautiful and youthful looks.
Bird’s nest is so rich in collagen and amino acids that it’s an essential nutrient for the renewal of your complexion.
What Are Some of the Myths About Bird’s Nest?
There are myths that say eating bird’s nest causes asthma or allergies in children, but this has been scientifically debunked.
Other similar myths like eating it while being pregnant will ensure lighter-skinned babies has also been debunked. Your baby’s skin colour and tone are predetermined by genetic factors.
There are myths that some bird nests are red due to the blood from swiftlets. Others say that the birds are harmed during the harvesting of bird nests from caves. These statements are untrue – stay with us to debunk them!
Why Are Some Bird’s Nests Red? Is the Red Colour From the Swiftlet’s Blood?
This is a myth that some red bird’s nests are a result of the blood from swiftlets. Some nests from certain caves and regions are reddish due to minerals absorbed from the cave or from oxidation.
Are Birds Harmed in the Harvesting of Bird’s Nests?
No. Harvesters understand that the swiftlets are the “golden gooses which lie the golden eggs”.
They only harvest the nest after the eggs are hatched and the baby birds have grown up and left the nest. Only then are the nests harvested and the rural people will hope for a bigger harvest next season when the young swiftlets return.
What’s the Difference Between Indonesian and Malaysian Bird’s Nest?
Indonesia has more caves and is a natural habitat suitable for the larger population of swiftlets. The swiftlets’ bird’s nests have greater nutritional value and are more premium.
Malaysia has many farms where they create buildings to encourage swiftlets to nest. The quality and value of such nests are perceived as less premium and are hence more affordable.
Bird’s Nest Prices
Indonesian bird’s nests are more premium and valuable due to their higher quality. The price can vary between $500 and $700 for 100g of such bird’s nests.
Malaysian bird’s nests are of lower quality and much more affordable – they can be bought for about $200 per 100g.
The Benefits and Myths of Bird’s Nest
Is bird’s nest good for pregnancy and cancer? Is red bird’s nest made from swiftlets blood? Be sure to check out the myths and benefits before purchasing your bird’s nest!
- Eating it every day is ideal
- Eating it during pregnancy results in fair skin for my baby
- Eating it during pregnancy leads to asthma for my baby
- Eating it during confinement is beneficial to the mother
- Bird’s nest is ideal for cancer
- Bird’s nest is ideal for cough
- Bird’s nest is ideal for acne
- Red bird’s nests are made from the swiftlets blood
- Red bird’s nest is made by both house and cave swiftlets
- Caves’ nests are better than farms’ nest
- Red nests are better than white nests
- Swiftlets are harmed in the harvesting process
Eating Bird’s Nest Every Day
Is it safe to eat this nutritious food every day? Some types (such as white bird’s nest) are safe to consume daily while others such as golden and red nests should be consumed in moderation due to the high mineral content.
White bird’s nest is safe to consume every day as it’s rich in glycoprotein, collagen, amino acids, antioxidants, hormones and various minerals.
Bird’s nest is treasured for many benefits like:
- High nutritional value
- Smooth and fair skin
- All-natural anti-ageing ability
- Boost immune system
However, golden and red bird’s nests should be taken in moderation due to the high mineral content that may put unnecessary stress on your body while trying to process it.
Eating Bird’s Nest During Pregnancy Results in Fair Skin for My Baby
Skin colour is determined genetically and there’s no scientific evidence to show that the consumption of bird’s nest, soybean products, and coffee will affect your baby’s skin tone.
It is recommended that mothers consume bird’s nest only after the first three months of pregnancy for the embryo to grow properly.
Eating Bird’s Nest During Pregnancy Leads to Asthma for My Child
Eating bird’s nest during pregnancy does not increase the risk of your child contracting asthma.
It’s a myth that isn’t scientifically proven. However, they are known to trigger allergic anaphylactic reactions in children and even adults. Should your child develop symptoms of breathing difficulty, swollen eyes or rashes, stop consumption and seek immediate medical attention.
It’s also important to note that as with all food products, bird’s nests should be consumed in moderation.
Eating Bird’s Nest During Confinement
It’s safe for mothers to consume bird’s nests during confinement post-pregnancy.
The nutrients within the nest, such as EGF, aid the recovery process and enhance the milk supply for mothers who breastfeed their children.
Bird’s nest can also help stimulate the appetite and aid digestion, repairing damaged tissue and improving overall immunity.
The period after birth is crucial and as a mother who has just given birth, you should take all the effort you can to recuperate and re-energise yourself to enjoy your time with your new bundle of joy!
Can Bird’s Nest Cure Cancer?
No, bird’s nest cannot be a substitute for modern medical treatment but it can help relieve certain symptoms.
Bird’s nest can be beneficial to cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment. The contents and nutritional value can help relieve “dry symptoms” such as dry skin, throat or mouth.
The essence of chicken, multivitamins and Lingzi in the delicacy are also known to help with relieving these conditions.
However, you should consult your doctor before including bird’s nest as part of your diet as it may interfere with your treatment.
Can Birds Nest Cure Cough?
The pre-digested form of nutrients that go into the swiftlets’ nest can help improve recovery and aid in the relief of common respiratory ailments such as coughs and asthma.
The bird’s nest soup you make should include ingredients like ginger that can aid the body in absorbing the antioxidants in the bird’s nest. Ginger is also a natural remedy that aids blood circulation and relieves cough.
Can Birds Nest Cure Acne?
Yes! Regular consumption of highly nutritious bird’s nest can increase collagen levels in your body to improve and maintain youthful skin.
White nests from farms are generally cleaner and require less processing before it’s edible, resulting in a higher quality nest as compared to the rest.
Are Red Bird’s Nests Made from Swiftlets’ Blood?
This is untrue. The redness is from the minerals of the surrounding cave environment that seep into the nest, turning it red in colour.
As red nests are more expensive than white ones, it’s important to note that certain producers have dyed the white nests red. While genuine red bird’s nest brings health benefits, long-term consumption of dyed red nest may damage human health.
Consumers are advised to purchase them from a trusted source to avoid harm.
Are Red Bird’s Nests Made by Both House and Cave Swiftlets?
This myth is untrue. Red bird’s nests are only made by cave swiftlets and the redness is due to the nest’s contact and the natural absorption of minerals from the cave wall.
White nests are made from both cave and farm swiftlets but farm swiftlets produce cleaner and higher quality nests due to the clean environment where the nests are built.
Are Red Bird’s Nests Better Than White Bird’s Nests?
It depends. Both nests have the same levels of protein and amino acids but red nests are presumably better due to the higher levels of minerals they contain.
Your body requires only a limited amount of minerals and any excess or long-term consumption can damage your health as it may put unnecessary stress on your organs to process the excess minerals.
Are Cave Nests Are Better Than Farm Nests?
This is untrue. Cave nests are more expensive as they are low in supply due to the difficulty of harvesting.
Another reason would be the excessive minerals found in cave nests thought to be more superior in quality even though cave and farm nests have similar amino acid and protein levels.
The industry has turned to swiftlet farming in urban areas and adopted swiftlet husbandry methods and structures. They are specially designed to mimic the conditions of natural caves and the nests are routinely harvested to ensure quality, cleanliness, and freshness.
Are Swiftlets Harmed in the Harvesting of Bird’s Nests?
It’s an industry practice for farmers to harvest the nest only after they are abandoned by the swiftlets. However, harvesting methods may differ depending on the location of harvest.
Bird’s nests from farms are harvested in a responsible way after they are abandoned by the swiftlet family when the baby swiftlets can fly. They only return during the next mating season where nests will be built again for another round of harvest.
However, for nests harvested from caves, due to seasonal constraints and other risk factors, harvesters may simply pluck whatever is available regardless of whether the nests are abandoned or not.
After Reading the Benefits and Myths of Bird’s Nest
You now know the health benefits you can reap from the regular consumption of this beauty-enhancing food. You also understand that you should always purchase yours from reputable and reliable sources.
HoneyCity offers premium bird’s nests at the best prices. The nests are imported directly from the suppliers in Indonesia and they are carefully selected to guarantee satisfaction.
You can enjoy the nutritional goodness of premium bird’s nest conveniently delivered right to your doorstep with a click!
We have ours listed below for your convenience, so satisfy your cravings with HoneyCity today!
Where to Buy Bird’s Nest?
Buy premium Indonesian bird’s nest at a favourable price from HoneyCity. They are more affordable as we procure ours directly from the fishing villages in Indonesia, avoiding middlemen and getting the best quality available.