Rain Swiflets
Types of Bird's Nests
Grading of Bird's Nests
Selection of Bird's Nests
The Benefits of Bird's Nests
Nutritional Value
Consuming Bird's Nest
Consumption Hour
Differentiate real from false
Cooking Method
Birdnest's History

Bird's nests are classified according to the location where the nests are built, edibility, external features, colour, quality and cleanliness and they can basically be classified into two main categories:

•  Cave bird's nest: (including whole cave bird's nest pieces, cave Hydrochous Gigas and Collacalia Maxima)

PictureCave bird's nest refers to the nests built by swiftlets in natural stone walls or limestone caves. These bird's nests absorb lots of minerals and they are usually beige or yellow in colour and they are more solid. They contain more fine feathers compared to house bird's nests and contain more impurities. They expand 2-3 times upon soaking and require longer soaking time. They are delicious after stewing, taste better and can be stewed for longer hours.

•  House bird's nest: (including common white bird's nest pieces and house Hydrochous Gigas bird's nest)

PictureHouse bird's nest are bird's nests built in swift houses and used by swifts for nesting. Swiftlets build their nests on the beams and walls in these houses, resulting in a slight taste of sawdust in such bird's nests. Houses used by swiftlets to build nests are known as swift houses. Workers check the bird's nests on a regular basis and will only harvest them when the time is right. As bird's nests are covered with feathers and other impurities, it is necessary to send them for cleansing at the bird's nest factory where feathers and other impurities are removed. House bird's nests are higher in quality, with less feathers and less impurities. They expand better in water and on the average, they expand 5 to 7 times their original size. They taste smoother but they cannot be stewed for long hours. They are normally stewed for 30-45 minutes before they are ready to be served. If stewing exceeds such periods (more than 1-2 hours), the bird's nest will dissolve in water and disappear.

*Whether it is house bird's nest or cave bird's nest, they are nests built by Collocalia ciphaga swiftlets and their nutritional value is almost at par.

•  Edibility

Swiftlets normally use twigs, straws and earth to build their nests and there are no edible contents. There are only three major types of edible bird's nests and the purity in protein contents and nutritional value of the saliva secreted by Collocalia ciphaga swiftlets is the highest.

Picture•  Collocalia ciphaga bird's nest {Official bird's nest}:

Collocalia ciphaga bird's nest means bird's nests built with pure saliva of swiftlets, with minimum impurities, in strips, with high affinity for water, able to expand 7-8 times and is the best quality bird's nest. They are usually white, yellow, red or grey in colour.



Picture•  Collacalia Maximus bird's nest:

Collacalia Maximus is a type of cave swiftlet and they have less saliva. They build their nests using feathers mixed with saliva and they are lighter in colour, usually white or yellow.

Collacalia Maximus bird's nest require more processing. The nests must be broken up and soaked in water before feathers and impurities are removed. They are then made into bird's nest strips, bird's nest balls and bird's nest biscuits.

As it requires more processing, their nutritional value and price are lower than Collocalia ciphaga bird's nests. Collacalia Maximus bird's nests also have a lower water affinity compared to Collocalia ciphaga bird's nests, thus they do not expand so much.

Picture•  Hydrochous Gigas bird's nest:

Hydrochous Gigas bird's nest may be divided into house Hydrochous Gigas bird's nest and cave Hydrochous Gigas bird's nest. They are mostly found along the coastal regions. From their name (in Chinese), we know that Hydrochous Gigas swiftlets use their saliva and straws to build their nests, and that is why these bird's nests contain pieces of straws. Hydrochous Gigas bird's nests come from swiftlets with specially sticky saliva. These swiftlets love to use young straw and their saliva to build their nests. Their bird's nests therefore are high in impurities and their edible bird's nest content is the lowest among the three types of swiftlets and so is its price. They are usually sold as broken bird's nest and bird's nest strips.

•  External features and shape

They are principally divided into whole bird's nest pieces, narrow bird's nest pieces, bird's nest corners, broken bird's nest, bird's nest balls, bird's nest biscuits and bird's nest strips. Whole bird's nest pieces refer to bird's nests which are intact after having undergone cleansing.

Picture•  Whole piece bird's nest:

These are curved or boat-shaped bird's nest which has been selected from the bird's nest harvested, with feathers removed, before they are sold. As whole piece bird's nests are naturally obtained, their shapes and sizes differ but these type of bird's nests are thicker than other types of bird's nests. They also possess higher nutritional value, with better flavor and better expandability when soaked. They are the cleanest among all bird's nests and they have high expandability. If swiftlets built their nests on the beams in swift houses, the bird's nests produced will be boat-shaped.

Picture•  Narrow bird's nest pieces:

These are whole piece bird's nests which have been accidentally broken during harvesting and delivery or whole piece bird's nests which have been cut into narrow strips or bird's nests which have been separated after careful selection. Although they are not attractive physically, their quality and method of preparation are similar to whole piece bird's nests.

Picture•  Bird's nest corners:

They are the hardest portions at both ends of whole piece bird's nests and they are the places where the concentration of saliva from swiftlets is the highest. They require longer soaking time (six to eight hours) and bird's nest corners are normally separated from whole piece bird's nests and soaked separately. The bird's nest corners are usually torn into smaller pieces prior to soaking so that they expand more easily. They expand more compared to whole piece bird's nests and are more crispy.

Picture•  Broken bird's nests:

These are as a result of breakage during harvesting and transportation or during the cleansing process and they are made up of small amounts of edible bird's nest.

Picture•  Bird's nest biscuit:

These are made from broken bird's nest during harvesting which have been processed and compressed into different shapes (such as rhombus, sphere, crescent and rectangular) and their quality is one grade below that of whole piece bird's nests.

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