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Saturday, January 19, 2013

What Everyone Should Know About Eggs

Everyone has been to the grocery store and seen the array of different eggs. There are usually your standard white eggs, and then a variety of homegrown-looking eggs that come in speckles or brown.

I collected several theories on eggs this week, just so that I could take care of a few of them. Here's what you should know about eggs before you go to the grocery store:

"The brown eggs are better for you because they have more nutrients." This is false. The color of the egg has absolutely nothing to do with the nutritional value inside. Brown eggs are laid by American breed hens. These chickens fall into the dual-purpose category, meaning that raising them for meat is just as worth-while as raising them for eggs. This makes them a popular breed to have for a backyard flock, thus contributing to their "fresh-from-the-farm" appeal. The truth is, these eggs are no different from the white ones, other than color of course.

"The white eggs are worse for you because they are bleached before they are taken to the store." Again, this is false. The eggs are so white because that is how nature and God intended them. Mediterranean breeds lay white-shelled eggs, and because they are the most efficient hens for laying eggs, these breeds are typically used by commercial farms. The eggs produced on a commercial farm are quite likely rinsed under water in the same manner as eggs at any farm-house are, no bleaching required.

"I have to buy expensive eggs because they are the only ones that are 'vegetarian'." Okay, well it's been a couple of years since I've helped out around the farm, but the last time I checked, chickens ate ground corn. To me, this seems like a massive marketing ploy. All chickens are vegetarians, therefore their eggs would be 'vegetarian' as well. Of course, there are always those rumors about unscrupulous corporations who give their chickens 'extras' to make them bigger - but from my understanding those are generally reserved for bulking up the meat chickens. I'm not sure what is in those extras, and it's so hard to discern the hype from the real problems about food additives these days that it makes for a tricky subject. Luckily, I'm just writing about eggs. As far as this one being a true or false myth, it ends up all depending on whether or not the commercial farm is giving extras to the chicken, but I would say that since they are layers (and not meat chickens), it's probably false. Best advice here is to call up the individual companies and ask them directly if they give their chickens anything with a trace of meat in it. If not - buy the cheaper eggs, you'll save yourself about $100 per year.

"You should always buy the freshest eggs you can." This is partially true. Yes, if you are going to use them for general consuming, you should look for the freshest eggs - but! - if you are going to use them for hard-boiling, go for the eggs that are a few days older than the rest. The fresher the egg, the more difficult it is to peel after you've boiled it. If you have really fresh eggs that you want to hard-boil, go ahead and leave them out of the refrigerator overnight to "age" them. This will make them much easier to peel.

"Eggs that have spots on them are not as fresh." It seems like everytime I'm at the grocery store I hear a line similar to this one from some lady that is picking through the eggs and creating her own "custom carton". The spots on the eggs are just natural blemishes and have nothing to do with how fresh the eggs are. Neither do the lines on them that look like cracks (but aren't cracks), the sound they make when you tap them, the way they spin, or any other weird old wive's tale about egg-freshness. So if you've spent your time at the grocery trying to get the best ones with any of the above suggestions, you've been wasting your time. There are three effective ways to tell egg freshness:

Candling Method: You can hold the egg up to a bright light (best done if you are in a dark room) like a penlight and check the air space at the top of the wide end of the egg. If it's less than 1/8", it's very very fresh - grade AA. If it's between 1/8" and 3/16", it's grade A. These ones are good for hard-boiling, especially when they are close to the 3/16" mark. If it's 3/16" or less, that means it is an old egg and it is considered B quality. This is the only method you might be able to do at a grocery store to check, although the lighting would have to be just right.

Sink or Float Method: Toss your eggs (carefully) into a bowl of water if you aren't sure about their freshness. Because the space of air in eggs increases as they get older, so does their float-ability. A fresh egg will sink to the bottom, but an old egg will float because of the air pocket.

Cracking Method: Eggs that are old do not hold together as well as fresh eggs. If you crack your questionable egg into a bowl, the white immediately spreads out from the yolk. If it spreads out so much that the yolk flattens and the white is runny, the egg is older. If the yolk stands up and the white spreads only in a compact area around the yolk, the egg is fresh.

Well now you know what I know about eggs. I learned most of it from the 4-H Poultry Club when I was younger, and the rest of it from my mom. The 4-H Clubs are a great source of advice and information when it comes to all things agriculture or animal-husbandry related. For more information on how to become a part of their programs, please visit their website at www.4-h.org.

10 comments:

  1. So true, everything you said. I do love the ways you have listed to determine if an egg is fresh or not. Thank you for an informative post!

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  2. Wow this article definitely caught my attention and let me tell you i learned a lot from this post
    I'm definitely saving this Article!
    Thank you.

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  3. Thank you! I'm just glad to know that people are getting something out of my ramblings ;)

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  4. Thank you for this article.... very informative!
    Sherri Lewis

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  5. Thank you! Great information :)

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  6. Very interesting article, I had always wondered about the color affecting nutrients!

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    Replies
    1. I actually thought to write up this article specifically because my mother-in-law mentioned something about egg-bleaching, haha!

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  7. Great info. Thanks for sharing.

    mybeachylife at gmail dot com

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  8. I never really gave much thought to eggs. This has changed things - there is a lot more to them than just opening up the carton and cracking them into the pan. Thanks for the info!

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  9. Thanks for this information about eggs, I learned so much!!

    happycatsitting@gmail.com

    Christine Sutor

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