Aug 3, 2011

Eggs 101

Egg Varieties
  • Brown eggs: Eggshell color can vary but it has nothing to do with the quality, flavor, nutritive value, cooking characteristics or shell thickness of an egg. The eggshell color only depends upon the breed of the hen.
  • Omega 3 enhanced eggs are from hens fed a diet flax seed or fish oils. Omega 3 enhanced eggs contain more omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin E than the regular eggs (almost 7 times more than regular supermarket store eggs)
  • Organic eggs are produced by hens fed certified organic grains without most conventional pesticides and fertilizers. Growth hormones and antiobiotics are also prohibited. Organic eggs have the same nutritional content, fat or cholesterol as regular eggs.
  • Free-Run or Cage-free eggs are produced by hens that are able to move about the floor of the barn and have access to nesting boxes and perches. The nutrient content of these eggs is the same as that of regular eggs.
  • Free-Range eggs are produced in a similar environment as cage-free eggs but hens have access to outdoor runs as well. The nutrient content of these eggs is the same as that of regular eggs.
  • Processed eggs such as liquid egg whites or dried egg whites are shell eggs broken by special machines then pasteurized before being further processed and packaged in liquid, frozen or dried form. Process egg products may also contain preservatives and flavor or color additives.
Basic Nutrition Info and Facts
Eggs are nutrition powerhouse. Rich in folate, vitamin B12, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, eggs also provides a good source of lutein, a type of antioxidants.

Yolk: 75 calories/213 mg. of cholesterol
Egg White: 16 calories/0 mg. cholesterol

According to the Egg Nutrition Center, the nutritional value of an egg is affected ONLY by the feed. In other words, specialty eggs such as organic eggs, or cage-free eggs provide the same nutritional value as the regular varieties if their feeds are the same.

What's the difference between a brown and a white egg?
Nothing except the color of the shell. And this is determined by the breed and color of the feathers of the hen that laid the egg: white feathered hens lay white eggs, and brown hens, brown eggs.

Should I always buy grade AA eggs?
Eggs are graded AA, A or B based upon the quality of the egg's interior and exterior when it left the farm. AA is the better option, for this reason. Yet, the grade doesn't have anything to do with freshness or size and grade A is commonly found in our markets. What matters more than grade is freshness, so if you have a choice between a very fresh grade A and a less fresh grade AA, choose the fresher A.

What size eggs should I buy?
Most recipes/nutrition info are based on large sized eggs.
jumbo = 30 oz
extra large = 27 oz
large = 24 oz
medium = 21 oz
small = 18 oz
*weight ranges are based on minimum size

How should I store eggs?
Always refrigerate your eggs and keep them large-end up in their original store cartons instead of transferring them to those useless egg-holding trays in your refrigerator. Egg shells are porous so if you expose eggs to the air inside your refrigerator, they easily can absorb food odors.

How long do eggs keep?
Raw eggs can usually be kept in the fridge up to a month (from the day they were packed).  If you  keep eggs at room temperature they lose more quality in one day than if stored in the refrigerator for a week.

A hard-cooked egg can be kept in the refrigerator for up to one week. If you open a carton and any eggs are cracked, discard them because the protective shell has been violated and it could cause the egg to spoil.

*Tip: If you don't know how old the egg is, do a simple test: If the egg sinks, it's good; if it floats, it's bad (which means it may give you a lit of stinky gas, should you choose to eat it).

Can I freeze eggs?
Egg Yolks = NO
Egg Whites = YES
Freeze beautifully and can be kept frozen for up to 6 months. Just put them in a sealed plastic container. You can also use an ice cube tray to freeze individual eggs whites, transferring the individual "egg cubes" into a sealed plastic bag after they've frozen.

Why are some egg yolks different shades of yellow?
The color of the yolk will depend upon the hen's diet. Wheat-fed hen's yolks will be a paler yellow than those fed a diet of alfalfa, grass or yellow corn.

What if there's a spot of blood on a yolk?

It's just a natural residue on the yolk that occurs when the egg is formed. Some say it's a sign of freshness because this kind of spot will fade as the egg ages. But if you have any question about the condition of an egg, discard it.

What about salmonella? Are raw eggs too risky to use?
Salmonella is a bacteria that causes an illness that can be dangerous to the very young, the very old, and anyone with a compromised immune system. Today it is extremely rare (some say 1 in 20,000 eggs) but if you have concerns, especially if there has been a recent egg recall, you should partially or completely cook your eggs. To kill the bacteria, cook an egg to 140º F for 5 minutes (the yolk will stay runny) or to 160º F (the yolk will harden) for 1 minute. The alternative is to purchase pasteurized eggs (they're more costly) which have been heated enough to kill the bacteria without cooking the eggs (pasteurization/high heat generally kills many nutrients/vitamins).

Also remember that eggs come from chicken farms, not exactly sanitary places. So handle eggs as you do raw chicken -- keep the eggs in their carton and separate from other food, discard any that are broken, and wash your hands after handling them.

Easy-to-peel Hard Boiled Eggs
1. Place eggs into a pot with cold/lukewarm water covering atleast an inch above the eggs.
2. Bring the water to a full, rolling boil at a high temperature.
3. The very minute the eggs reach that full rolling boil, remove the pot from the stovetop to a nearby waiting trivet and IMMEDIATELY put the cover on the pot TIGHTLY and allow the eggs to continue to cook in the hot water (right on your tabletop, yes, without any flame underneath it) still in the pot for EIGHTEEN minutes.
4. After the 18 minutes, remove the cover and pour out the still very very hot water and refill the pot with the coldest water you can get your tap to produce.
5. Let the eggs just sit in the very cold water for a minute or two and then refill the pot again with more of the coldest water you've got.
6. Peel oh so easily (because the immediate rinse with cold, cold water). :)           
*adapted from and

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