Test Kitchen – Eggs

Did you know that the color of the egg doesn’t make a difference? The color of the egg indicates the color of the chicken that laid the egg….except for man colored Easter eggs.

I am a lucky person. I have a friend who owns a chicken farm. I am able to get fresh eggs when I need them…delivered to my door. No pesticides or injections to enhance the chickens or the eggs etc. I do vouch for the fact that fresh ‘right off the farm’ eggs taste so much better than store-bought eggs…which I no longer buy. Soooo, what do you and I need to know about eggs?  I will try to cover all aspects in reference to eggs, for you, my readers benefit.

I assume you all are aware that eggs purchased by the dozen in the grocery store are already weeks old before they hit the store’s shelf. Eggs do have a long shelf life as eggs freshly hatched will last for several weeks without refrigeration due to a special coating on the eggs outer shell. It is called bloom. Bloom acts as an oxygen inhibitor and it keeps the egg from breathing. The slower the egg breathes the longer the shelf life. This is interesting, because I didn’t know eggs breathe. Some companies take the ‘bloom’ off the egg before they package them – with a special washing method. I understand they remove the ‘bloom’ for sanitary reasons as it holds bacteria. The problem with taking it off is that it cuts down the shelf life of the egg.

My cousin’s family raised eggs for market. When I visited their farm in the summer, I remember doing what is called ‘candling’ the egg. To do this, we held the egg up to a special light and because the egg-shell is translucent, you could see inside of the egg. Eggs are candled to decide the condition of the air cell, yolk, and white. Candling detects bloody whites, blood spots, or meat spots, and enables observation of germ development, as well as embryo development. I bought a dozen eggs at the grocery store once, and when I broke open one of the eggs to make an omelet, it had a dead chicken inside. I threw up. I never ate eggs again for a long time. Apparently that dozen of eggs had not been ‘candled’.

Today, candling is still done, but by various methods: 1) eggs are placed on a conveyor belt and pass over mechanical sensors integrated with computerized systems for defective eggs. 2) advanced technology, utilizes computerized integrated cameras and sound wave technology for the segregation of eggs.

Eggs are pasteurized when used for freeze drying, imitation egg products, and egg substitutes. The pasteurization of shell eggs means they must be kept refrigerated to retain quality. This is not often done.

Eggs don’t have to be graded. A company wishing to have their eggs graded pay for this USDA service. If a carton of eggs has not been graded it will have “Grade A” on the carton without the USDA shield.

Once refrigeratedeggs should stay that way to avoid bacteria growth. Do not wash eggs – washing takes off the (bloom) protective coating. Keep eggs in the carton they came in to retain freshness. Do not transfer eggs into the new fangled egg holding devices you can buy at the store. Also, do not put eggs in the door of the refrigerator, because that is the warmest part of the refrigerator and the temperature fluctuates as you open and close the door.

How do you tell if the egg is fresh? Apply a simple test – all you need is water. When you are ready to use your eggs. Just fill a bowl with cold water and place your eggs in the bowl. If they sink to the bottom and lay flat on their sides, they’re very fresh. If they’re a few weeks old but still good to eat, they’ll stand on one end at the bottom of the bowl. If they float to the surface, they’re no longer fresh enough to eat and should be discarded. As the egg ages, the air sac in the end of the egg increases in size. This is what makes the egg float. Also, the air sac in the end of the egg – when it gets larger makes the egg easier to peel. That is why older eggs are better to hard boil…but need to be eaten within 2-3 days.

Organic eggs are produced through organic means.         
The chickens are fed organic feed. According to the USDA, organic means that the laying hens must have access to the outdoors (except on rainy days), cannot be raised in cages, and cannot be given any low-level antibiotics during infectious outbreaks.

Free Range chickens are caged, but when outdoors, the range area is fenced. They can roam freely outdoors for at least part of the day.

There is so much to learn about eggs. You can do your own research and come to your own conclusion about eggs.  Goose and duck eggs are also good. I found http://www.fsis.usda.gov to be a very helpful site, as is Wikipedia.

Did you know eggs are not considered to be dairy but are considered to be an animal by-product? I will talk about the cholesterol from eggs in another blog.
                             HAPPY EGG EATING – IF YOU ARE AN EGG EATER.


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