The Hippie Chicks have just started earning their keep and supplying us with fresh eggs. I have to admit that I am a total newbie and never really gave eggs a thought before. They have just always been something that was found in our Easter baskets and refrigerator. Used for breakfast omelets, boiled, fried, scrambled and baked into cookies and cakes. I have never been a big fan of them. I’d much rather have pancakes or waffles, yogurt or cereal, muffins and fruit. Until this morning that is, when I tasted fresh from the chicken eggs for the first time. The difference is amazing!! The hubs on the other hand has always loved the things. Any way you cook them he eats them. The boys are the same way… crazy about eggs. Eggs are high in protein and one of a few foods that contain Vitamin D. They are all natural, filled with vitamins and minerals and only about 70 calories each. They are necessary for muscle strength, brain function, healthy pregnancy, eye health and so much more. Overall eggs are a perfect food. I’m sure you all know most of those things but there is so much more to an egg and I’m going to tell ya!
Lets start with the shell. The hard outer layer is to protect the developing embryo inside (if there is one) and is covered with a “bloom” that helps to keep bacteria from getting in and moisture from getting out through tiny pores. Shells come in a variety of colors the most common being chalk white or light brown. Depending on the breed of chicken you can also get a deep chocolate brown, green, even blue eggs!
One trip to the grocery store and you will see that eggs come in a variety of sizes. Small, medium, large and jumbo! I hurt just thinking about that poor chicken that has to lay a jumbo egg! Can you imagine?? Ouch!! The size of the egg is determined by the breed and age of the chicken. Bantams will lay small tiny eggs because they are small tiny chickens. Young pullets (that’s chicken talk for new momma) will lay small eggs until they mature a bit more and their hormones adjust.
Sometimes they can even lay rubber eggs, soft shell eggs, wind eggs, pimpled eggs, torpedo eggs, round eggs or lop-sided eggs! Heck, nobody is perfect- but that egg will still be! The size, color and shape have nothing to do with the taste or nutritional value of an egg.
When you look at the inside of the egg that’s where the fun starts. Sometimes you may find a double yolk. This is very common in new mommas as two yolks will drop into the oviduct at the same time. Consider it a present. Two for the price of one! The color of the yolk is what’s important. The deeper the golden yellow, the better that hen was cared for. Most free range chickens or ones that are fed things like grasses, greens, fruits, vegetables and flowers will have that rich gold color. A pale yolk is typical of hens that are fed a commercial diet only. One thing I learned that I found really interesting is that the yolk is actually the food source for the developing embryo. I always thought it was the other way around and that the yolk was the embryo!! The white or albumen of an egg is the membrane. In fresh eggs it will be clear and as the egg ages it will become whiter or cloudy. That is because moisture inside the egg starts to evaporate. If you find a string like cord inside your egg that is the chalazae and it helps to keep the yolk suspended in the middle of the egg. It is perfectly fine to eat and does not affect the flavor in any way, it just doesn’t cook up that well in scrambled eggs so you may want to remove it. Other things you may find in your egg are blood or “meat” spots. These just mean that the chicken broke a blood vessel somewhere along the way before the shell was applied to the egg It by no means means (hey, see what I did there?) that the egg is fertilized. Another misconception. Although they don’t look so pretty you can still eat them because they are fine but if they really gross you out then use them for baking or feed them to Fido. Eggs are wonderful for a dogs coat. They are also wonderful to feed back to the chickens. What?? Did she just say to feed the chickens their own eggs? Um… yes I did. After all they are a perfect food and your girls can use the same health benefits as you. Just cook them first, you don’t want your chickens to become egg eaters on their own or you will have problems.
These came from my very own sweet little momma Raquel. She just started to lay eggs last week.
As you can see they are double yolked, they have that chalazae and they have blood spots. I cooked them up anyway and they were amazingly yummy. If you don’t have access to farm fresh eggs (then I think you need to remedy that) you can tell how old an egg is by the float test. Fill a large bowl with warm water and gently place your egg in it. If it sinks on its side it is fresh, if it floats or stands upright get rid of it. Thats because as an egg ages it will loose moisture and the air space gets bigger causing the egg to float.
Never wash your eggs until you are ready to eat them and then use only warm water. Cold water will draw any bacteria into the egg through the pores. If you find yourself with an over abundance of eggs and you have already given a bunch of them to your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers then go ahead and freeze them. Just crack them into a bowl and lightly beat them with 1 Tablespoon of sugar per cup of egg mixture (use these for baking) or 1/4 teaspoon of salt per cup (use these for cooking). Measure into 3 tablespoon portions because 3 tablespoons equals 1 whole egg and freeze. Nice huh??
So there you have it. The incredible, edible egg. School is now no longer in session.