Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Chicken Mummy Week I: Pharaoh Kirby I

After reading about a couple of other homeschooling families mummifying chickens during their study of Ancient Egypt, we decided that it sounded like fun (in an interesting, if kinda gory and icky sort of way). We put the call out to our homeschool group to see if anyone wanted to join us with their own chicken mummy, and SFK and her girls came out to play.

I found several versions of ‘how to’ make a mummified chicken; this one, Chicken Mummy, Recipe #3, was simple and easily accomplished. I bought about eight 32oz containers of plain salt, a couple of jars of cinnamon, some whole cloves and nutmeg. The recipe said any strong-smelling spices; I’d be interested in how other spices compare for keeping the smell down. We’re keeping the chicken in a sealed bowl on the kitchen counter (or in a cupboard when we have company. We’re not total heathens.) and there really is no smell that I am able to discern.

Week I: Pharaoh Kirby I has Died

SFK and I both bought a regular chicken – nothing fancy. Ours weighed 5.05lbs to begin with. I unwrapped it and washed it and we gave them to the kids to prepare.  We also gave each team a glass jar to make canopic jars. I filled them with a super-saturated salt brine and the kids put the heart, liver and lungs in them (or would have – both chickens were suspiciously without hearts). We got an extra lung, and the girls got some weird bonus piece of artery or something. The consensus was that it was gross.

After that, they used paper towels to dry the body as well as they could. It took a surprising lot of paper towels – I’ve read that the poultry industry injects chickens with water to ‘help’ the weight; after seeing this project, I don’t doubt it! Every time we thought it was dry, they’d life a leg and there was another puddle of liquid. Eww. They did great though; they got under the wings and inside the body cavity – it was nice and dry!

Once it was dry, we have the kids a paper plate with about a cup of spices on it and let them rub the body with spices. I really thought that they would slide off, but the cinnamon powder stuck very well. It felt extremely weird to pick up the dried and powdered chicken body… really weird!

Once it was spiced well on the outside (even under the wings), we poured the rest of the spices inside the cavity, then they poured an entire 32oz container of salt into the body cavity.

Then we put the body into a large, heavy duty zip-top bag and poured another container of salt in, then sealed it up!

And that’s it! Look at those happy faces. Who knew dead chickens could cause that much glee in the 7-10 year old set?We’re checking on it daily (without opening the bag) and I’ll be posting updates as we go. I’ll update this post (and the rest) with the full series so that they’ll be easy to find.

If you’re making one, or have made one, please feel free to link to your blog in the comments!




6 responses

  1. One of the things that the Egyptians used to mummify their people was Natron. It’s something found naturally in Egypt. Unfortunately it is illegal to have shipped to the USA because of a third ingredient but you can easily make some faux natron. Just take one cup of baking soda and one cup of salt and mix well. Add just enough water to bind them together and form into a thin pancake on a cookie sheet. Slow cook in the oven at 200 degrees for about 6 hours. You don’t want it to brown but you want all of the moisture removed from it.

    We did chicken feet the other day. And we cheated when we made our faux natron. I just mixed baking soda and salt together and decided to skip the baking part. 🙂

    March 31, 2011 at 7:24 am

  2. We just finished out mummy. We chose a cornish hen, soaked it in alcohol for 4 hours, the put in a mixture of salt, baking soda, and wash soda, we changed the mixture every 6 hours twice, then ever 12 hours twice, then 11 days later.

    I couldn’t have done the slimey mess that some folks were coming up with LOL I was very happy with our outcome !

    March 31, 2011 at 8:34 am

  3. Will be watching closely. I am preparing myself to do this sometime in the near future.

    April 6, 2011 at 3:54 am

  4. Pingback: Chicken Mummy Week II: Pharaoh Kirby I « This Adventure Life

  5. Pingback: Chicken Mummy III: Pharaoh Kirby I « This Adventure Life

  6. Pingback: Chicken Mummy IV: Pharaoh Kirby I « This Adventure Life

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