Irish 'Buttered Eggs' Probably Aren't What You Think

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Who even cares anymore — both are tasty and beloved worldwide. Statista reports that in 2021 in the United States, each person ate an average of 284 eggs, proving that eggs are one of the nation's most popular foods. After all, eggs are called "the perfect protein," and they're very versatile.

Who could blame Americans for eating so many eggs? They can be soft-boiled, hard-boiled, fried, scrambled, made into omelets, or used as key ingredients when making desserts. And if you've ever tried eggs that are fried or scrambled in butter, you already know that butter makes everything taste better. 

Eggs and butter are a natural pairing, so it's not surprising to see that in Finland and Estonia, there's a spread called munavoi, or egg butter, made by whipping butter and mashed hard-boiled eggs (per Savory Lotus). The mixture is spread on bread, which sounds pretty delicious to us. And in Ireland, you can find buttered eggs — but they're probably not what you think.

'Buttered eggs' is an Irish preservation technique

If you think the term "Irish buttered eggs" refers to eggs that were fried or scrambled in butter, you're way off. In Ireland, and especially in Cork County, buttered eggs refer to a technique of preserving eggs by rubbing butter all over whole, freshly laid (and maybe still warm) eggs. The eggs were preserved during the winter, when hens typically produce less. Once the warm eggs were laid, they were rolled in buttery palms, and the butter permeated the eggshell in the process. Later on, once the eggs were cooked, the flavor of butter made the eggs richer (per Atlas Obscura). 

The thin protective layer made the eggs shine and gleam on the exterior as well. But nowadays, you'd be lucky to find buttered eggs; the practice had almost disappeared from Irish households. (Buttering the eggs needs to be done by hand, and no machines will help with the technique.)

Once preserved in butter, though, eggs can keep for at least six months, per Gateway Garlic Farms. So if you have freshly laid eggs in your vicinity, grab some butter.