Cave nests are found in mineral caves of the rainforests in natural reserves. The world’s best cave nests are most concentrated in Sabah, East Malaysia. Geologists confirmed that the caves are formed by limestones protruding from the surface of the Earth. These limestones belonged under the sea thousands of years ago and are rich in natural minerals that the human body needs, containing high natural nutrient contents. Cave nests are harvested three to four times a year, with the rest of the time being breeding seasons.
There is very little pollution as the caves are located deep in the rainforests. Deep in the caves, the environment is not affected by weather changes. The minerals contained in the cave walls are absorbed by the bird’s nests, causing it to appear yellow and red in colour, especially at the corners. There are very few feathers and impurities in cave nests. Besides that, it has a smooth taste and its quality will not be affected by stewing. High quality cave nests like these are hard to come by.
As the cave nests are constructed on the cave walls, the minerals from the cave are slowly absorbed into the nests. Therefore, uncultivated cave nests have bright but ununiformed colours. Due to the different minerals found in the cave walls, cave nests will have more than one colour over time, instead of a single colour. The longer the formation of the nests, the deeper its colour, and the higher is its nutrient content. Some of the nests will have red stripes after combining with the minerals, thus becoming the famous blood nest. However, it will not be entirely red in colour.
Elastic and chewy, delicate and smooth, and has a unique fragrance.
As uncultivated cave nests contain very few feathers, the feathers will be hand-picked, and will not appear to be very compact. They will appear to have thick stripes, a certain thickness and loose. Notwithstanding the above, if the cave nests are harvested at the early stages of its formation, it will be thinner with thin stripes and more transparent.
Density is measured by weight. The difference in weight before and after soaking the bird’s nest is its density – the bigger the better. Generally, a high quality cave nest has a density of 8 to 10. If water is sprayed at a good quality cave nest, it will become soft and elastic. The moisture will vaporize by itself if the bird’s nest is stored at a dry place, making it dry again.
Cave nests are rich in minerals as they are only harvested 3 to 4 times a year, allowing them to absorb more nutrients. The nutritional value of cave nests is 25% higher than house nests.
However, they are scarce as cave nests could not be cultivated. The simplest way to differentiate between cave nests and house nests is through cooking it. Cave nests could withstand 5 to 6 hours of stewing but house nests can only withstand 2 hours of stewing. Cave nests also have a sweeter taste.