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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Eggszact Science

It's been almost six years since we moved onto this farm.  It's been a lot of hard work to turn it from an abandoned, overgrown corn field into a productive farm.  It's still a work in progress, but we're now reaping the rewards.  And even though we've had a lot of experiences over these six years, we're still learning everyday... especially about chickens and eggs!

A lot of you comment about the rich color of our egg yolks.  DJan, believe it or not, your store-bought eggs started out like these.  Yeah, a long time ago!  That's the problem.  The cooked eggs I'm showing you are usually around a week old.  The ones you get in the store?  Who knows.  Eggs, properly handled, do keep a very long time!  But, like anything else, over time they loose nutritional value and taste.  That's the big difference.  It takes time to go from the nest to the grocery shelf.  So, for the same reason we seek out fresh veggies from the farm markets, you should be buying your eggs fresh from the farm.

Most of the comments we get about our eggs are about the taste and the colors.  You've seen in previous posts how the brown eggs range from almost white to deep brown, some even almost mauve!  Then there are the green ones... some mint green, some sage, some olive, some aqua.  They look lovely on a tray.  Not only do they vary greatly in color, they also vary in size.

I've posted pics of the extremes, from the tiny egg I had for lunch to the one that had to hurt!  Aside from those, our eggs range from small to jumbo.  We don't separate our eggs by size the way you find them in the stores, so when we box them up, we try to mix the sizes so that each cartoon contains about the same amount.  We do, however, try to keep out the small eggs and the jumbos.  Customers really don't want the small ones.  When they open the carton, they want to see big eggs.  That's fine with us... the small ones are our favorites!

We've discovered that the ratio of white to yolk is not the same for the smaller eggs.  The yolk is a much bigger percentage in the small eggs!  When I had a friend tell me she prefers more white, I was astounded!  I thought everyone like the yolks the best!  Is there anything tastier than egg yolk sopped up with rye bread?

And the jumbos?  Well, most of them are double-yolk, and well...  you know.  Lots of yolk!  Actually, we wouldn't mind putting them in the cartons to sell, too.  Problem is, the lids won't shut!  Yeah, jumbo eggs take a larger sized carton, so we set those aside for our own use.

We've just learned there is a down-side to fresh eggs (...aside from the cost, the filth, the work, etc.)  You can't boil them!  I don't eat a lot of boiled eggs, so if Mr J or FIL have boiled any of our fresh eggs before, I don't know how they turned out.  Last week Mr J decided he wanted some hard-boiled eggs.  After the determined time had passed, we cooled the eggs down.  I always remove the shell before putting them in the fridge, so I thought I'd be sweet and remove the shells from Mr J's eggs.   OMG!  What a mess!  The shells wouldn't come off.  They stuck and pulled chunks of egg off with them.

We found out what went wrong from the resident chef at the Bengal Barn.  Something about the membrane not yet being detached from the shell.  An egg must age two to three weeks to allow air to enter and the membrane to detach.  Otherwise, you'll never get the shell off without practically destroying the egg!  So did ya ever think an egg could be too fresh?

Now Mr J has two dozen eggs set aside for Thanksgiving.  He wants some hard-boiled and some deviled eggs for the big dinner.  I've decided to split the hard-boiled eggs and lay them out on a tray like deviled eggs to show off their beautiful innards!  I'm thinking about using the double yolks for the hard-boiled.  Yum!

I mentioned proper handling...  Egg shells are porous and chickens poop alot.  These two facts combined spell trouble.  It is important to clean any poop off the eggs before storing them, but you have to be cautious in how you clean them.  If you scrub the eggs wrong, you can actually push the contaminates (nicer word than poop) through the shell!  You can't soak the eggs in water, nor can you let them sit to dry.  The water will soak into the egg.  I won't share all the details.  If you have chickens and want to know, just ask me...

Here's a cute tidbit to tie up this post...  If you feed your chickens garlic or onion, you can get flavored eggs!

Now, don't you feel eggstremely eggducated?


Kim Kasch said...

My bil and sil have chickens and I'm going to pass on all this info.

Hope you're going to post pictures from those deviled-eggs.

This was eggsactly the info I needed to hear;)

SquirrelQueen said...

I feel very eggducated! My grandmother raised eggs but I see there are lots of things she didn't tell a child. One thing I remember vividly is seeing her 'candle' the eggs. Does anyone do that anymore?

DJan said...

Well, you solved it: my eggs can be hard boiled quite easily and they peel like a dream. But the pale yellow yolk wouldn't change color with time, would it? I can get fresh eggs from a friend, they are like yours. And no, what could be better than egg yolk sopped up with (in my case) whole wheat sourdough??

Lily Robinson said...

For any of you now wondering what candling is... (See SQ's comment)

Basically, it's like holding something up to the light to see through it. When you candle eggs, you're checking to see how the embryo is growing.

We don't do it because we're not hatching any eggs. We have a couple of roosters left in our flock, so our eggs are fertile.

Maybe in the future we'll think about hatching our own chicks, but for now, we have plenty of dirty, nasty birds!

Marla said...

I have had chickens for years and never knew that about boiling for hard cooked. Great info, Lily. Thanks!

Nancy said...

I loved this post! Believe it or not, I actually started life from a ranch and we sold eggs! This was many many years ago and my parents moved from our ranch, and chickens, when I was two. But we still have pictures of my mother washing eggs.

I recently had that happen with boiled eggs. I guess they were fresh.

Shellbelle said...

This was an eggstra special post Lily, so much great information. I also looked backed and saw the tiny egg and BIG egg. I even went and got Sister to look at that tiny egg and I never to that. She got a kick out of it and so did I.

In California I always bought fresh eggs and produce from the wonderful Farmer's Markets there, but we just don't have them here in my area of Florida. While shopping for Thanksgiving I did notice the price for organic vs. regular celery and carrots was the same at Publix. I hope this trend continues. Not farm fresh, but at least there are no pesticides.

Now, when I visit the farm in Georgia, I come home with a real bounty from family and friends.

I've missed you Lily and I'm glad to finally be back. Happy Holidays dear friend!

Olivia and Me said...

Hi sweetie.. thanks for posting on my blog.. and I see that you too have a Miss Maggie Mae. Don't you just love that sweet name. I love your farm and only wish that I reside closer for some of those yummy eggs!! Nothing bets a farm fresh egg.. free range to boot!

Good luck in the drawing and.. I look forward to reading more of your blog!