EGGS-THE BASICS

When allowed to roam free, forage on insects, and eat kitchen scraps in addition to a daily diet of organic feed, each hen lays about 250 eggs per year. Flavor is concentrated in the egg’s yolk and directly correlates to diet and the time of year. Organic hens allowed to roam about most certainly do produce the tastiest eggs.

Yolks from backyard flocks change color with the season. In the summer and fall, the yolks are brilliant orange and do not resemble in the least the sad, pale yolks sitting on most supermarket shelves. In the winter and spring, when the hens spend more time indoors and there are fewer than ten hours of sunlight each day, the yolk turns a lemon chess pie yellow.

The color of the shell has no effect whatsoever on the taste of the egg. Until I began researching which hens could survive the 100 degree temperature changes of New England seasons, I had no idea that Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham” story describes one of natures most beautiful gifts: blue and green colored eggs come from Aracuana chickens, also known as Easter egg hens—one of the friendliest and hardiest backyard breeds.

SIZE

 Egg size depends on the breed of chicken:

  • Medium eggs weigh 1 ½ ounces or 40 grams

  • Large eggs weigh 1 ¾ ounces or 50 grams

  • Extra-Large eggs weigh 2 ¼ ounces or 70 grams

NUTRITION

Eggs are more nutritious than cow’s milk, soy milk, and beef. One large egg has about 70 calories, 7 grams of protein, a healthy daily dose of B vitamins, and is one of the few foods with a natural supply of vitamin D. Critics worry about cholesterol. Please see the definition of moderation: the avoidance of excess or extremes, especially in one's behavior or political opinions.

STORING

I always leave eggs sitting on the kitchen counter and I have adopted a European attitude regarding storing them: why take refrigeration space if the eggs will be eaten within a couple of days of being laid? Also, many recipes call for room temperature eggs. When I want to poach or soft boil eggs and need to peel the shells after cooking, I try to use the oldest eggs I have as the shell pulls away from the white more easily and with less pitting. 

If buying eggs from a farmer’s market—the next best place besides your own backyard to get fresh eggs—ask when the eggs were laid, but do refrigerate. One day at room temperature is the same as four days in the refrigerator.

However, do not take the leave on the counter approach with store bought eggs—who knows how long the eggs have been sitting on the shelves and how long it took them to get to market. An egg has a 30-day shelf life, more or less, depending on how it is stored. The sooner the egg is eaten, the better it tastes. Buy eggs in the quantity that will be used within a week. The pennies saved from buying a dozen eggs instead of a half dozen, do not outweigh the loss in taste and freshness.