My family lives in northern Virginia, and about 6 years ago my sister and I stopped at a Tractor Supply store and saw some ever so adorable chicks making the sweetest “peep” noises. My sister and I stood there playing with them asking each other if we could do this. “Mom and Dad have enough room for them, don’t they?” “Sure.” So, without permission from our parents, we bought 6 chicks, the store minimum. We determined by the time they need a coop we could build one, we would look for scraps to use and find drawings online and do it ourselves, no parents needed. HA, our dad didn’t let that one fly, after much moaning and groaning he built a coop out of some spare wood from here and there. He even put a checkerboard laminate floor in it. Once the chicks were big enough to go outside we put them in the coop and watched them for hours. We called it “The Chicken Channel,” they each had their own little personality running around eating the grass and bugs. We couldn’t wait for them to start laying eggs. Once they did I was in heaven because I. LOVE. EGGS!
Over the years, with many hours of research and many trials and errors, I, along with my family, have learned a few things about eggs and chickens in general. I want to share some of this with you all, some of this you may know if you go to farmer’s markets, or do any research on food before you eat it, some of you may hear it the first time here. I just want to help at least one person get one step closer to knowing what they are eating or putting in their body. I want to help you make informed decisions when shopping for food, more specifically eggs for this blog post.
The real question here is where to start, there is so much I could write on eggs, therefore I am going to apologize now if this post goes on too long. Next post I will cook up some eggs and show you the color and size difference between the duck egg, fresh eggs and store bought eggs.
Let’s start with the fact that most American’s don’t know. Fresh eggs do not need to be washed. The egg has a natural coating on it called the bloom. The bloom help protects the egg from bacteria. As long as the bloom is on the egg, the egg remains much fresher. This means that the eggs do not need to be refrigerated if the bloom is still protecting the egg. Obviously, the majority of consumers wouldn’t purchase even slightly dirty eggs in the store, nor would the USDA allow it; therefore mass producing farms have to wash their eggs. Because the bloom is no longer protecting the egg, they have to be stored in the refrigerator.
If you bought your eggs in the refrigerated section it is best to keep them in the refrigerator. If they are farm fresh and not washed, you can keep them on the counter. I have had mine out on the counter for up to 5-6 weeks. You can, however, store unwashed eggs in the refrigerator and they will last a very long time, up to 6 months.
If you are unsure if the eggs are fresh or still good enough to use, you can do the float test.
- Get a cup of water (enough to cover the egg plus some).
- Gently set the egg in the cup.
- If it sinks to the bottom and lays flat it is fresh.
- If it has one end sticking up, it is still good, just not super fresh (5-8 week range).
- If it floats it is a bad egg or really old, I do not recommend eating it.
Blogger Lisa from Fresh Eggs Daily goes into much more detail on the storage of fresh eggs if you would like to read up on that topic. Some may even call her an “Eggspert” haha, she really does know a lot!
I created this the infographic to help with understanding the different labels used to classify eggs. Some people are often confused when looking at which eggs to buy.
The plain old white eggs with no classification are considered “Battery Farm” eggs; the chickens are stuffed in cages and fed a high protein diet. These are the cheapest eggs in the stores and least humanely treated chickens and not the healthiest eggs for you.
The best egg you can get is from pasture raised chickens on a farm. They have the most nutrient dense eggs and you can tell by how orange/yellow the yolks are. next in line would be organic free-range eggs. They will have no pesticides and the chickens (should) have the opportunity to go outside.
However, I am a big believer in supporting your local farms or farmers. If and when possible, you should get fresh eggs off the farm. These chickens are more likely to be happier and have a better diet thus producing better tasting and healthier eggs.
The one I did not add to the infographic is the Omega 3 eggs. They’re like conventional chickens except that they are on a vegetarian diet and it is supplemented with an Omega-3 source, like flax seeds and canola oil. These chickens may have had some access to the outside.
The difference in the egg size is determined by the weight of the egg. According to the USDA here are the sizes of the individual egg and how much they weigh:
- Jumbo- 2.9 oz.
- Extra Large- 2.6 oz.
- Large- 2.3 oz.
- Medium- 2.0 oz.
- Small- 1.7 oz.
My favorite way to cook eggs is over easy or sunny side up with some toast. You can taste the yolk the best this way. It is rich and creamy and actually has some flavor (compared to most commercial store bought eggs). I can tell the different times of the year from my mom’s chickens. In the spring they eat more bugs and weeds, the yolk is a pale orange. In the fall the chickens used to get black walnuts, the yolks were bright orange and rich (my favorite).