A long time ago, in a land far, far away I had a friend who hated chickens. She loathed them. Every time we’d go out to eat, she’d say to the waitress, “Don’t bring me anything with chicken. Chickens are disgusting, vile animals.”
And then she’d tell a story about her uncle, who was a CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation – so, a factory farm) chicken “farmer,” and how when he was upset with her, he’d send her into the chicken “camps” and make her touch them. They would peck at her and squawk, and they were generally miserable poor things.
So, for a very long time, I believed chickens were disgusting, vile animals, based on her story. And no, no, no. That couldn’t be more of a misrepresentation! After spending some time around the squawkers over the last few years, I’ve come to adore the humble, slightly screwy chicken. If kept with love and respect, they aren’t much different than my cats.
Except I can’t eat anything that comes out of my cat.
The way they express their individual personalities is mesmerizing. I love chickens. I love pastured chickens.
And, most of all, I love the creamy, fluffy, bright yellow-orange yolked eggs they give us.
As I’ve mentioned, I spent some time recently at my friend Diana’s farm (Lil’ Bit Farms) and goofed around with her chickens and goats. All my eggs this summer are coming from Diana. From chickens that bawked while scurrying away from me. From chickens I touched. Chickens I know.
(P.S. I mention this, because I have a challenge for you at the end of this post.)
After Diana brought me eggs last week, my obsession with the difference between CAFO and pastured eggs peaked. So, I share with you some of the things I’ve learned, along with some unique ideas so that you can use ALL your eggs before they go bad!
Let’s talk. Bawk. Squawk.
12 Things You Should Know About (and Do With) Your Eggs
1. Pastured, free-range, vegetarian-fed, commercial eggs – what’s the difference?
This is probably the most elementary knowledge we’ll talk about here, but it’s important to get it out of the way first (if you already know, skip down to number 2).
Pastured chickens are chickens that are allowed to roam around, hunting and pecking through the ground for grass and bugs. They’ll often be fed supplemental feed, but often they won’t even want it, as they’ve gotten all the nutrition they need from eating the things chickens were designed to eat. Pastured eggs are definitely the gold standard of eggs, and it’s often hard to find them unless you know a person/farmer who keeps their own chickens.
Free-range eggs, which you’ve seen in the store, I’m sure, are from chickens who are allowed “some form of outdoor access.” This amount of outdoor access is nebulous, and just because your eggs say “free-range” doesn’t mean the chickens spend their lives running around a happy farm. To be sure, free range would be a better choice than commercial eggs, but just know that free range doesn’t mean all that much right now.
Vegetarian fed (or organic), which your free-range eggs will also often say on the carton, simply means that the chickens weren’t fed animal protein. Unfortunately, this means they also weren’t allowed to run around eating bugs. Again, vegetarian fed (or organic) is better than commercial eggs, as we at least know the hens weren’t fed scraps of dead chickens or other animals, but the chickens still weren’t happily hunting and pecking in the open air, as they crave doing.
Commercial eggs, or CAFO eggs, are the inexpensive eggs you’ll find in every supermarket. I’m sure you’ve seen these feeding/laying operations in “shock” videos. If you haven’t seen the way these poor chickens are inhumanely treated, I recommend watching Food, Inc.
2. Pastured Eggs have higher nutritional value than commercial eggs. Especially when it comes to vitamin D.
We’re talking 4-6 times more vitamin D.
Most of this can be attributed to a pastured hen’s own access to ample sunlight and critters and grass that, in addition, has had access to ample sunlight.
Check out all the other nutritional benefits to pastured eggs, according to Mother Earth News.
3. One last thing about the difference between pastured and CAFO eggs: Pastured eggs come with the dark orangey-yellow yolks. CAFO eggs do not. Unless the commercial farmer cheats.
We’ve been buying pastured eggs (if you can’t access fresh pastured eggs, find Vital Farms eggs in your local natural supermarket, get them and see what I’m talking about) for several years now, so I’d forgotten what commercial yolks looked like. I remembered them being a light almost yellow-white color, from the olden days, but I wasn’t sure.
So I bought some to compare.
I was surprised, actually, at how bright yellow they were (still not as dark as the pastured eggs), until I learned that CAFO farmers will often, nowadays, supplement the chickens diet with something called canthaxanthin to simulate the gorgeous natural yolk color of pastured eggs. Canthaxanthin, by the way, is also the main ingredient in “sunless tanning pills.” Heh.
In a pastured egg, the gorgeous dark yellow-orange color represents the amount of beta-carotene, leafy greens, and protein the hens get in their diets.
In a commercial egg, the color likely represents the amount of coloring additives the CAFO worker put into the feed.
The greatest difference I found, by the way, between the pastured egg and the commercial egg came after beating them. The pastured egg was thick and creamy, and the commercial egg was watery and separated slightly within seconds after beating.
4. Eggs have a natural coating called a “bloom” that protects the eggs and keeps them fresh for a week or two. Commercial eggs are washed of the bloom and covered in mineral oil instead.
Eggshells are porous and absorb the smells around them and the things on them, as well. Just something to consider.
In the meantime, if you get a pastured egg and it has a “bloom” on it, don’t wash it off UNTIL you’re ready to use it (and then rinse it well and wipe with a towel). Keeping the bloom on will help your eggs stay fresh in the fridge for two or so weeks.
(Refrigerating eggs, by the way, helps extend their shelf life. According to this site, if you keep an egg at room temperature for a day, it ages the same amount that an egg kept in the refrigerator for a week would.)
5. The color of your eggs doesn’t change the taste or nutritional content.
Green, white, brown, yellow, blue … it’s not the color of the egg that counts; it’s what’s inside.
These eggs in Diana’s hands came straight from the happy chicken!
6. You can tell if an egg is still good by carefully placing it in saltwater.
If you’re not sure how fresh your eggs are, or if they’ve been in your fridge for a few weeks and you’re wary about using them, try this quick experiment:
- Dissolve 2 Tbsp salt in 2 c. cold water.
- Place the egg in the water gently.
- If it sinks and stays down, it’s fresh. If it floats toward the bottom at an angle, it’s starting to age. If it floats, toss it out – it’s not terribly good anymore.
Why does this happen? Read the link above to learn!
Now For the Fun Stuff! Some Things You Can Do With Your Farm-Fresh Eggs!
If you’re not going to eat all your eggs, or if you want to use ALL parts of them, here are some great beauty and crafty ideas to make the most of your little round goodies.
7. The membrane of an egg makes a WONDERFUL under-eye mask.
Now, if this isn’t using all parts of an egg, I don’t know what is.
After you’ve cracked open your egg, if you carefully peel off the membrane that coats the insides, you can apply it right under your eyes (keep it OUT of your eyes, though) and let it dry.
Just pull off a piece that fits around the area in question, and gently smooth it on (make sure you’re not wearing makeup, by the way).
Let it dry and then gently wash it off. If you do this several times a week, you may even see results that last more than a day. AND it’s a great motivator to keep eating those nutritious eggs.
This is a great quickie eye mask to use while you’re cooking the eggs you just cracked open. Go, go multitasking natural beauty!
8. Suck out the gunk in your pores by making a pore-strip mask with egg whites and paper towels!
This is a super simple pore strip tip that’ll leave your face soft and clean.
Just soak strips of paper towel in egg whites you’ve whipped up (you can add a little water if the whites are very thick). Apply the paper towel strips all over your face, but especially on your nose, chin, and anywhere your pores tend to clog.
Let the strips dry and then peel them off. Rinse well with warm water and then splash with cold water.
9. Egg yolks make an amazing hair conditioning treatment.
The protein in egg yolks (added with their creamy consistency) will leave your hair stronger and shinier than ever.
Separate two or three eggs and use the whites for a pore mask (above). Whip the yolks and add in just a touch of heated, liquid coconut oil until you have a creamy mixture. (Some people use olive oil, but coconut oil leaves your hair smelling better and a little less like mayonnaise.)
Apply the mixture to damp hair and leave on for 10 minutes.
This is the important part: Rinse your hair very, very well with cool to tepid water (do NOT use hot water, or you’ll cook the eggs into your hair – yuck!). Then shampoo out the rest of the way, still using cool to tepid water.
You probably won’t even need to use conditioner! (In fact, I highly recommend not using conditioner, so you can bask in the natural conditioning and silkiness of your hair.)
10. Eggshells make a superbly pretty translucent powder for your face.
Read more about this here in this post on Crunchy Betty (where we solved the eggshell issue).
Of note, I’ve since learned that a mortar and pestle is an excellent investment for many different reasons, but one being that it grinds those eggshells into gorgeous powder in no time – much quicker and more efficiently than a spice grinder, even
11. Make tempera paint with egg yolks, just like the artistic masters of old!
This is a wonderful little summer experiment/craft you can do with your kids (or yourself)!
There are bazillions of tutorials all over the internet on how to do this, but my favorite one is right here: Read how to make egg tempera.
I love that tutorial, because it talks about how you can use charcoal (or activated charcoal) to make black paint, mustard to make yellow paint, and even cream of tartar to make white paint.
12. Don’t forget to compost your eggshells.
Eggshells are wonderful to use in your compost pile, but it’s best to break them up into tiny pieces before adding them. Eggshells take a while to decompose.
If you want to get the jump on the goodies of eggshells for your garden, I recommend making eggshell tea. It still takes a couple of weeks, but your garden will lusciously adore you for it. I used it a couple of years ago on my strawberries, and they loved it (until the deer came and ate them all and I was left with nothing to show for it – stinky deer).
How to make eggshell tea for your garden:
- Crunch up a bunch of cleaned, dried eggshells as much as possible (putting them in a bag and using a rolling pin works well).
- Add the eggshells to a large jug of water.
- Let the eggshell water sit in the sun for 2-3 weeks (or longer, if you have the time or if you’re doing this before planting).
- Strain out the eggshells and then water your plants with the remaining “tea.”
It’s best to keep this mixture away from populated areas, ’cause it starts to smell a little icky after a while.
Cat’s Don’t Lie About Farm Fresh Eggs!
When I was taking the photos of the eggs (which I placed in front of my door, for the best natural light), my naughty little cat, Ju-Ni came by.
Ju-Ni, by the way, survived her recent surgery for bowel obstruction quite nicely, and we learned that putting a cone on her head keeps her from doing ultra bad things. The cone is now placed in a visible area as a reminder to her to toe the line.
Curious about how she’d feel about the different eggs, I let her sniff them. She first went to the pastured egg. Then she turned to the commercial egg and sniffed.
After a second of sniffing the commercial egg, she went back to the pastured egg and went to town on it (until I laughed, and then she thought she was being naughty, so she ran away).
So there you have it. 1 out of 1 cats prefer pastured eggs to CAFO eggs. If that doesn’t convince you, what will?
YOUR CHALLENGE THIS SUMMER:
Find yourself pastured eggs.
Meet a farmer or a person who keeps backyard chickens.
If you only buy one dozen pastured eggs this summer, you will have completed the challenge.
Not sure where to start?
- VISIT YOUR LOCAL FARMER’S MARKET: This will be your best and easiest bet at getting your hands on pastured eggs. While you’re there, talk to the farmer about his or her chickens. Farmers love to talk about their chickens.
- FIND A LOCAL FARM: LocalHarvest.org is a great place to start in finding local farms who might have pastured eggs. Once you connect with the farmer, see if you can take a tour of his or her space. There’s nothing quite like goofing around with the chickens whose eggs you’ll be eating!
- VISIT CRAIGSLIST: Backyard chickens are becoming more and more popular all over the country, and many people who keep their own chickens have WAY too many eggs on their hands and are looking to offload some. I found several people on our local Craigslist selling a dozen eggs for $5 or less. Check yours out to see if there’s any local egg sellers in your area! Just search “eggs” in the for sale search box. You might be surprised!
- GET YOUR OWN CHICKENS! I know, this is a far stretch and not something to get into on a whim, but if you have the yard and the ability, imagine what it would be like to walk outside in the morning, grab some freshly laid eggs, and scramble ’em right up. Ahhh. (Plus, feeding chickens is a great way to use up your food scraps.) Backyard Chickens is a GREAT site chock full of info, if that idea tingles your hiney.
Now you tell me: Do you have a source for pastured eggs already? Do you keep your own chickens?
Let’s squawk about hens. I’m not yolking around.
(I know, I’m terrible.)
What a great article! Some of which I did not know so thank you for the info. I am chicken momma to six Easter Egger ladies and we get an array of beautiful blue/green eggs. They are four years old and the sweetest girls ever. We have hand raised them since they were less than 24-hours old. The more they are handled, the friendlier they will be. They are sneaky girls too……forget to shut a door and they come right in and make themselves at home. Of course, like everyone that visits, they head straight for the kitchen because they know that is where all the good stuff comes from.
I never knew this things about the eggs. Super interesting article 🙂 thank you for the tips 🙂
We have chickens. My husband doesn’t wash them but he soaks them in water for a day to get the crap off them. I was wondering if the egg absorbs this water or if we shouldn’t do that.
My understanding is that you should NOT soak eggs to clean them. My chickens are pastured and will sometimes find clever places to hide their eggs. I use the water test to determine if they are fresh, otherwise, I don’t wash my eggs until ready to use, and then only in warm water. If you prefer to wash eggs before refrigerating, the water should be about 20 degrees warmer than the egg. Best method is to just rub them with a warm wet paper towel to get the messy stuff off. Cold water will draw bacterial into the egg.
From the Backyard Chickens website, “wash the eggs under warm, running water. Cold water will cause the contents of the egg to shrink, creating a vacuum that will pull bacteria and other nasties into the egg through the porous egg shell. Warm water, on the other hand, will cause the contents to expand against the shell, preventing bacteria from entering. Do not soak eggs in the water and after washing store them in a cool place, preferably the fridge and use them before any unwashed, clean eggs. It is not necessary to use soap, bleach, vinegar or any cleaning materials when washing eggs. Warm water is enough.” http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/cleaning-and-storing-fresh-eggs
Hi, lovely article. One correction, the freshness water float test should be done with cold,fresh water, no salt! The link you provide as source for this excersize does not mention salt, and I tested both salted and unsalted methods, there is a significant difference. Salt makes even good eggs float.
My girlfriend is using eggs for hair mask. I prefer them for breakfast. haha
I have a question, I have a few backyard chickens who within the last year pumped up there egg laying but my one lady lays pink eggs I was extremely exited seeing this but I found one that was pretty soiled so I washed it and the pretty pink washed right off and left a normal brown beautiful speckled egg. My question is do I need to worry about the pink film that washes off? My girls are all pretty healthy but you can never be to sure with chickens they are tough birds. I do have a rooster with them he was hatched without nails so he’s like a toothless dog and can’t hurt my girls. Any information would be awesome. My lady is a golden chicken I’m un sure of her breed she was an accident bird when we ordered them but she’s lovely and beautiful.
Those eggs are safe. I used to wash our eggs with water and a scrub sponge and found the brown spots associated with wholesome backyard ehgs often wash right off. What we fear from the cloacal chicken are bacteria like caphylobacter and salmonella passed to the outside of the egg as it passes through the bird. Your homegrown chicken likely doesn’t have these bacteria. Some surveys have indicated that up to 100% of factory farm chickens have these pathogens, in part because they are given non-chlorinated drinking water where fecal-oral diseases spread easily. So the long and short of it is that we should all assume pathogenic bacteria are present on raw chicken eggs. This is why health officials say to cook chx and eggs well to stop pathogen transition.
thats new to me.. thanks for sharing this cool tips about egg.
Md. Tajul Islam
Benefits of egg-there is no end, I got the point from this article. Egg is not only good for eating but also good for different uses. Some people avoid to eat egg for the fear of being fat. But actually egg is helpful to reduce fat. Doctors advise eating egg for minimize some diseases, some doctors describe the egg as multi-vitamin suppliment.
nandita | Digital marketing
Wow nice tips and i will use these tips in future. Making tempera paint with egg yolks and for conditioner is the best idea.
Great information about eggs, thanks for sharing it!
We have 14 pastured chickens. They’re wonderful & after we all made friends they’re really very funny and attentive. I’ve learned a lot as we’ve become farmers. We have a hippie cow, 2 piglets, & 14 hens. I’ve learned that a lot of the commercial farmers finish their hens diet with carnation petals as it makes the yolks bright orange like our eggs. There is no comparison when it comes to eating them. Even our 3 year old knows the difference and can tell if I’m trying to pass off an “icky egg” instead of a yard egg. We have a lot of us to feed and despite 14 hens still occasionally buy eggs. Thanks for all the great ideas. Can’t wait to smear egg all over and get beautiful 😉
Would you mind if I featured your photo of your cat eating the pastured egg in our newsletter? It’s a great shot!
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I ate eggs many time but this is the first time I know some thing interesting about eggs.
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Organic means – produced with pure life energy, no poisonous chemicals, in the soil, the plants, the bird…the egg
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Just when you thought you heard it all:
Place an egg in each spot in your MUFFIN PAN. BAKE in 350 OVEN FOR 20 to 30 minutes.
I TRULY THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO BLOW UP THE ENTIRE BLOCK WITH THIS ONE.
I was very afraid … Watched it like a Hawk. Turned out just like BOILED EGGS WITHOUT THE WATER, yes no water needed. This was on the Kitchen, the TV show. The eggs boiled very nicely, I may have cooked them a little too long. But it takes practice. Cooked just as directed, they turn out beautifully, please don’leave the kitchen .
Tip: I covered mine with SILPAT just in case one should burst, but each EGG turned out perfect.
کوله پشتی دلسی
i really enjoyed reading your article. it’s pleasant to read
Very good information. Lucky me I came across your website by chance (stumbleupon).
Very well written post. It will be valuable to anybody who usess it, including me. Keep doing what you are doing – for sure i will check out more posts.
Wow, this post is really helpful to me. Thank you so much, I gain a lot of good tips here
organic food coloring
Perhaps it’s the overall health of the plant.
Click on the questions below to reach the answers:. It is these very weeds
that were plaguing the rice farmer’s crops. , Utah State University, Dept.
Organic items can today be found at supermarkets and grocery stores.
I am a first time chicken owner myself, I have five beautiful Red Star Hens. I love my girls recently one of my girls have began to lay (Lucille) as I call her. I get up in the morning and always find my daily treat from her. I loved your article because I need as much information as I can get. It really is amazing that chickens are so beneficial, I love them and only hope to learn more and more from them and from others. Thanks!
Great article, just wanted to add that unwashed eggs can last much longer than 2 weeks. I have chickens & am licensed by the state to sell eggs. If kept in the refrigerator, they can last 2 or 3 months…although mine never do.
Hi, just read your article about eggs and enjoyed it. I get my eggs from a local man and they are farm raised and allowed to eat bugs, etc. We adore his eggs.
Also, wanted to mention to you that the raw egg white is not good for cats. Here is a paragraph from an article that talks about feeding cats raw eggs.
“I see no problems with feeding your cat raw egg yolks from time to time. But try to avoid raw egg whites, as these contain a protein called avidin that can bind to certain B vitamins and prevent their absorption.³”
Also wanted to mention for anyone who has a cat with diarrhea, raw egg yolks are great for treating this condition.
Thanks and I look forward to seeing your articles, tips, etc. as I’m not signed up to you on FB.
I get my eggs from my sister’s farm or from a farm near where I pick up my weekly CSA share. Anymore I only use store-bought eggs when I’m doing my holiday baking or we can’t get to a farm.
Another fun fact about pasture eggs – they tend to have thicker shells than CAFO eggs. A thicker shell means that it will take longer for air to penetrate. This will let the eggs last longer (we’ve had eggs over a month that were still better than CAFO).
You can do some really cool crafty things with them – Pysanky is one. Another, similar that works really well with brown or other colored eggs, draw a design on the shell in wax. Soak the egg in vinegar for 15-30 minutes until the shell color is gone or nearly gone. Use Goo Gone to clean the wax off. I did this for a friend of mine, she raised chickens and was a massage therapist. I did her logo on some of her eggs.
Hi Betty, I came across your site a couple of days ago when having a particularly bad hair day -well, my hair is a metalhead hair so it’s a badass hair most days anyway. But that day I was just fed up with my shampoo, and not being a fan of chemicals anywhere near me, I had begun to question the need for letting so many a cubic metre of sls lather wash over my skin every day over the course of gosh how many years. So that’s how I came across your “sorta poo” formula, and now I’m reading about your discerning cat and the eggs, and nodding along as I happen to have a friend who keeps her own organic chickens and oh yes, her eggs taste like proper eggs… I love this site!!
Have you tried washing your hair in egg yolk? I did 3 days ago and it still feels awesome! I conditioned my hair with an ACV rinse too. For the past 3 months I have been washing my hair with baking soda and it was making my hair dry and and my scalp itchy. So I went in search of an alternative and came up with this. Also, I have been brushing my hair with a boar bristle brush to help distribute my natural hair oils. So far so good!
Very nice article, I will sure get those pastered eggs, I am embarressed not to have known before..
I am looking forward to having my own little back farm after university some day !!!
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I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your blog.
It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for me to
come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create your theme?
My family and I love eggs! and you have inspired me to make the extra effort to find better ones. Occassionally we will get the organic which is uber expensive for daily use like $6.5 for a dozen, yeah. and i was buying some free range ones from the farmers market which did taste good then they started tasting funky like the store so stopped that. incidentally we just opened a pack of eggs today and they were bright light yellow, made me a little sad…..the info in here was really great, Thanks!
side note, ur cat is so huggable 🙂
This is such a helpful and great tips. I raise chickens but I only use the eggs for cooking and not for any beauty tips. I will let my mum know about this since she is very conscious about her face. This will be a good home beauty tips. Thanks for sharing these information to us.
The egg membrane also makes a great bandage for open wounds. My skin on my fingertips splits from the inside in the winter, so I get the membrane from a freshly cracked egg to cover it, and the cracks heal much faster. The membrane can be slippery to work with, but cover the wound and let the membrane dry. It will come off when you wash your hands.
Also, leave your eggshells out on the counter to dry out and the membrane will absorb carbon monoxide.
Howdy! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering if you
knew where I could locate a captcha plugin for my comment form?
I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having difficulty finding one?
Thanks a lot!
Remarkable things here. I’m very happy to see your post.
Thanks a lot and I am taking a look ahead to contact you.
Will you please drop me a mail?
This is what you can do with an egg yolk from a pastured hen:
You won’t find store eggs with such thick and rich egg yolks. To get yolks like this, hens need to be outdoors and get lots of exercise.
great article but could you please remove the apostrophe in the word CATS (CAT’S DON’T LIE…) it doesn’t belong there.
theirs allwayz sum idiyot what haz too corect otherz speling mistaykes get a liyfe
Says the person who apparently cannot spell at all.
welcome to the internet, it sounds like you are new here
I love reading a post that will make people think. Also, thank you for allowing for me to comment!
How do I keep my brown a dark brown ?
you poop on it everyday before bedtime
I have backyard chickens. I get 19 eggs a day I am always looking for things to do with all those eggs. There is nothing like a fresh egg . I have started to sale some.
fantastic article!! we raise chickens. and i encourage everyone i know to do the same. this last year for eggs. this spring we will do meat chickens as well. it teaches our children the circle of life. and responsibility. love our chickens
Miss Crunchy Betty,
Thank you for great point of view. I do teach my children Christ like values, do you think Christ would eat his chicken if he needed to, yes I believe He would. I don’t assume someone I buy products from should be so confrontational. You know little about me and my life. So step back within yourself and reread your message to a customer because you have an opinion. I have lots of opinions too, but i don’t take them out on everyone I don’t agree with. you seem so loving and compassionate. Yet your words are opposite. being confrontational and argumentative is not a value i teach my children.
i now see this previous message was from Deborah. sorry for directing it towards you Crunchy Betty. stay crunchy!
Again deborah your point view is valued. Although get out of your narrow minded world and you’ll see
as far as abuse towards my children I must say I do feel a little bit bad for yours as they are living a sheltered life of unreality
Didnt Christ eat all them fish?
Also, religion was only invented because science couldn’t yet answer our questions. Now that we have science religion and “believers” will die out over the next 5 generations or so.
Government powers have been pushing and using religion as a tool to control the population since forever. Still happens today. Check out the Brunei wikipage – see the May 2014 update. Check out the current sultan, he is a bit sultry…
tldr – Also there is no god, your kids will soon grow up and realise this. Welcome to the future where you should be a nice guy even though you’re not going to hell!
Andre de Kock
I am a Atheist and cleverer than millions of people…Blah blah blah blah blah
Why are you all such a-holes? Oh never mind-it is because you don’t have a God in your life….-and nobody tells you what they think of you because they are believers and know that you are just a lost soul and feel sorry for you.
Poor Stevie-going to hell with his eyes wide open…
If you are so Christ-like Deborah, why are you taking the lord’s name in vain? That is something i have been taught my whole life not to do because it is extremely disrespectful to the lord. And did you not read the story in the bible where jesus distributes bread and FISH to everyone? it’s life Deborah. Don’t be so quick to judge. I’m sure you’ve also stepped on a spider or two. And i bet that doesn’t bother you near as much as stepping on your bunnies.
I’ve eaten eggs all my life and had no idea of all their uses. I’ll do better now that you’ve educated me 🙂
I really enjoyed reading this! The eye mask thing I will be trying! I have 4 hens in our back garden, they are such characters (highly recommend rescuing some ex-batteries, check out BHWT in the UK) and have supplied us with countless eggs! We recently moved them into a bigger home on grass, but now all the grass is gone, they are on the muddy remains, and get quite mucky. I have also noticed they eat an awful lot of the soil! And their poop is very much just soil!!
I thought the fact about the eggs absorbing surrounding smells was interesting, as we have noticed that recently (the last 2-3 weeks) our eggs have had a rather grassy/muddy taste. Could it be because of their new dwelling?
I am still researching, but reckon it’s something to do with this.
Anyway, I’ll be back for more reading soon! Thank you! x
I can’t believe what I just read on eggs! thanks for providing such good information now I know to stay away from pasteurized eggs. I would rather grow my own chickens and get organic eggs any day! Tip number 9 I always knew about while growing up with a few sisters, they used to always condition their hair with it to make the hair grow thicker.
Egg shells can also be used as a snail deterant….
Crush them under a knife on a chopping board and spread them around the base of your plants.
Late lamented New Yorker staff writer E.B. White has written in praise of hens. He kept his own in Maine. Could there be a more encouraging endorsement?
Now look here Crunchy Betty, all I wanted was a recipe for coconut butter and happened upon your site…still here AN HOUR LATER!!! It’s funny, informative and damn entertaining. I already stay too long on the computer and you’re just not helping…fab site though, thanks for the great writing and invaluable information. I shall spread the word…x
Oh oh oh! And another fun tip. When boiling eggs, and hoping to peel them without ending up with a mangled egg, take a sewing pin, and poke a tiny hole in the bottom (the wider part). It allows the boiling water in, and separates the cuticle from the egg. One quick roll on the counter-top, and the shell falls away. One of my favorite tips ever!
I didn’t look through all of the comments, but one other fun thing I learned about eggs from my grandpa when I was little. If you can’t remember which eggs you boiled, and which eggs are raw, place the egg in question on your counter-top and give it a spin. If it wobbles and spins slow, it’s raw. But if it spins like a top? You can finish making your Chef Salad! While I understand the physics behind this, it’s still fun to show other folks who didn’t realize it. 🙂
I’m so glad I live in a place where I can get these easily. I remind my husband, who moved away from an urban area, that this is just one of the perks of living out in the country. He has a lot of health issues and he has made a lot of changes to eat better. Unfortunately, his healthcare is through the VA so they treat everything with pills or surgery. We’re working on that. Thanks for the tips!
Just a note on the refrigeration of eggs in Europe. We do not refrigerate our egg. I get about 10 a day from my 10 hens and 3 roosters. They seem to last for several weeks on the counter using the water test method. http://www.forbes.com/sites/nadiaarumugam/2012/10/25/why-american-eggs-would-be-illegal-in-a-british-supermarket-and-vice-versa/
I was quite surprised that store bought eggs are now artificially colored. I thought I too remembered them being quite light colored, but we have had pasture eggs for so many years I forgot what it was like to buy eggs.
And I am a member of a community help group on fb. When I get too many – I let the group know, take names and meet them in town and give them all way to families in need.
I should say that most of these things were heard before, however this article is interesting 🙂 by the way.. about that egg yolk – it really can be a miracle for your hair ! I use that procedure twice a week and I see the result.. try that 🙂
Pastured eggs sound better, I’ll look for those!
I buy vegetarian fed cage-free eggs. I saw a documentary on chickens and learned about they’re sensitivity and kind social behavior. Before chicken was my favorite meal, now I don’t eat poultry anymore and Chickens are one of my favorite species of animals.
I pasture hens in my back yard. Not only are the eggs wonderful, but the hens are beautiful living yard art and produce great fertilizer for my yard. The only downside (if this IS a downside) is that my sons don’t want to go out for breakfast any more – they say the eggs taste “funny” now!
We have our own suburban chickens in an A-frame chicken tractor in our backyard. Currently, we have two Australorp hens in the coop, and we just purchased three new chicks (two Rhode Island Reds and a Silver-laced Wyandotte–our first!). I call my hubby our “Chicken Whisperer,” as the hens all seem to adore him.
Hi! I love reading this post! I am a lucky one that has my own backyard/pasture chickens. Not only do the eggs taste better, they are also very intertaining and help someone to relax and enjoy life!
How fun! I just recently purchased 2 dozen pastured eggs from a post I found on Craigslist. Glad to know the difference of course I could taste and see the difference. I once tried a “Free Range” egg, but they were down right awful.
When we had to get rid of our chickens I just didn’t buy eggs… then I really started missing them so I bought some at Kroger. I didn’t even eat the whole dozen they where so watery and… ick! Now that we have moved back to the country we are just waiting on our girls to get old enough to provide us with wonders!! And as we wait I get them from a neighbor-friend with chickens!
This was a wonderful post, I really enjoyed it! But I do have one question. I’ve always though you could keep your eggs unrefridgerated as long as they stayed at a consistent temperature and the bloom was left on.
This was timely – I came online to find something to do with eggs and my hair, checked here first, and you had a post custom-made for me 🙂 I am now sitting here with egg yolk in my hair, egg whites on my face, and the membrane under my eyes. Can’t wait to try the shells as powder – never heard that one before, but what a great use for shells!
I can’t keep chickens here in my city, but I am lucky enough to get pastured eggs from my milk farmer – what a difference. I can also get quail eggs at Asian markets, or more recently from my farmers market. They’re small, but sooooo good hard boiled and chucked in a salad. I might try using the quail shells for powder and see what happens, since they’re speckled (might add a bit of colour?)
Great post! I love eating eggs. There are so many things you can make with them. It is so sad to know what they do to most of those chickens. I never noticed the difference in the color of the yolks until I tried your test! Great information and shocking results. Thanks so much for the insight on this.
Awesome tips! For the eggshells, I’ve also heart that you can let them dry and grind them into a powder and sprinkle it onto whatever you eat for calcium!
Great challenge! New to your blog and looking forward to coming back. I have been buying pastured eggs for a couple of years now. We started out with Vital Farms, but now we can buy more local with Eben Haezer Eggs (not all their chickens are pasture-raised, though). They are expensive, but worth it. I’d much rather raise my own eggs, but my husband doesn’t want to deal with them. Our friends in Montana raise chickens and their kids have named each of them. Very cute! Your post has challenged me to visit the Eben Haezer Farm!
We keep backyard chickens. They are there primarily for bug control.
Chickens eat ticks, crickets, grasshoppers and just about any other bug you don’t want around. They also eat scorpions, something we get in AZ.
I wish they wouldn’t eat the little geckos but they do.
I consider the eggs extra. I do supplement feed but I know the chickens eat stuff they dig up as well.
Right now I’m down to one adult hen (who is 8 years old and still lays about every other day) and have 5 chicks brooding in the house until they are big enough to go outside.
The first time I gave my daughter a fried egg sandwich with one of our eggs, she asked why the yolk was orange.
Love this post. We just started buying what we call yard eggs a week or so ago. I also just when no ‘poo about a 2 weeks ago. I’m still adjusting so my hair is oily right now, but I am loving the idea of the egg yolk as conditioner since I normally only eat the egg whites and I was hating myself for wasting the yolks.
How often would you say to “condition” hair with the yolks if you are no ‘poo?
Maybe this is a dumb question – but those bad eggs, that float … Can I use them for the topical treatments? Or should they be tossed no matter what?
I was wondering the same! I hope someone answers! ha
Our friends whose chickens were the source of our fresh eggs have sold the ranch so we’re now back to store-bought eggs. There’s definitely a difference, especially in flavor. I really wish that we were permitted to keep our own chickens, but that dream will have to be put off for a few more years. Alas. Now, my friend who got his degree in poultry science has told me that eggs can keep in the refrigerator for up to three months. I don’t think that I’ve ever had any eggs stick around that long, but it would be interesting to test. Now that I know how to check the eggs, I might just have to find out. 🙂
I tried the egg membranes under my eyes today. LOVE IT!!!! Thank you! 🙂
hello Betty. i just wanted to brag on you. and thank you because of all you have opened my mind too. i get so excited when i find and can afford the ingredients i need to make some of the recipes from this site. i cant even remember being this excited since i was a youngin. its freaking awesome. im 34 and i think im on to something for the first time in my life and i dont know how to thank you enough. im probably not as crunchy as most on here but i like the way i am for now! i kinda have different views but thats ok. but this stuff for our faces and hair and bug spray is crazy good. i just love you and i so wish you the best because you have brought so much to alot of people and that has to be a great feeling. since ive come across your site thats all i do. no more facebook which is no love loss since its just full of drama! anyway your great and thanks again for the things i will never forget. sending you hugs all the way over to you. (i live in va)! thank you. thank you. thank you.
This was so darn interesting! I always knew that it would be better to switch to free-range or organic but never knew pasteurized existed. Thanks for the info and all the different ways I can use eggs. I’m definitely trying all of them!
I have eaten eggs that have been two months overdue from the best before date several times. I’ve never had problems with them. I keep them in the fridge and just try the good ole´water in a glass trick before I use them.
I also only buy eco eggs, which here in Sweden means that they are free range AND fed good stuff. Still, I would rather buy eggs from a farmer where I can see the chickens themselves. Unfortunately, I don’t know one.
Turtle Moon Health
We love our flock of layers. for their personalities and their eggs! Great article, loved it. We spread the word by posting it on our FB page: http://on.fb.me/12mvoxj and on Twitter. Thanks!
I love, love, love this! You are so on, Betty! We switched over to family-“grown” eggs about a year ago and I would never ever ever go back. It has inspired me to want to get chickens (just can’t yet with the whole German Shepherd and five square foot backyard thing going on – someday!).
Have you ever tried duck eggs? They are amazing. Huge yolk, same orangey-yellow deep color and so many vitamins and minerals.
I did your eggshells on the face a while ago, and I’ve never looked back. Way better than any powder in the store. http://daisybleedspinkglitter.blogspot.com/2011/07/crushing-eggshells.html (That’s the post I wrote about it.)
Thanks for dilligently disseminating the wonders of our everyday world!
I just found a site that compares the vitamin and mineral content between chicken and duck eggs if anyone is interested (by the way, I don’t sell duck eggs or have stock in them, I just thought it was interesting):
I love this post — practical stuff and beauty stuff all in one.
Don’t forget, you can also eat the shells! Soaking ground eggshells in lemon juice makes the calcium more bio-available (you can Google it) but I just grind them up and eat them, usually in a smoothie. I also just read that if you put eggshells in kombucha for a second ferment, it works as the lemon juice to make the calcium bio-available.
Although, of course, I wouldn’t eat CAFO eggshells.
Amanda @ Easy Peasy Organic
Unbelievable timing, Betty! I just posted about my ACHING BURNING desire to raise chickens, despite the confines of my townhouse courtyard. You and I were on a wavelength today 🙂
Happy egg-hunting xx
Great blog and it shows how much more there is to chickens and their eggs. I can’t eat store bought eggs anymore. They just gross me out. It must have took you a lot of time to put this all together. We love reading your trials and adventures ; )
I love love love eggs and am desperate to keep my own chickens…soon I hope it will happen.
…my cat is called Juney
Love love love pastured eggs! I get them from a woman at our local farmers market. She has pictures of her chickens and she talks about them with so much love! And the quality is incredible. You can definitely tell a difference. We’ve been getting eggs from her for so long now, that I can’t even fathom getting grocery store eggs. I always like opening her cartons and seeing the various colors of eggs! The first time I got a blue one, I was so excited! It was my special egg!
I’ve also bought turkey eggs from a different woman before as well, and those are really good. They have huge yolks, and a slightly more “gamey” taste than chicken eggs, but they’re great nonetheless.
I haven’t researched a lot about it, but I have read that a lot of eggs in the grocery store are washed in a bleach solution as well. With eggs being porous like they are, Just the thought of that grosses me out.
I so want to grow my own chickens! Hopefully we’ll live in a place one day where we can!
Jennifer, eggs in the US can be rinsed with a bleach solution, but aren’t always. If you’re worried about it, your best bet is to call the company and ask. If you’re buying organic eggs then bleach is not used, as the National Organic Program has not approved bleach to be used on food products (only to clean equipment) because it’s not an “organic” compound. Organic companies will either rinse their eggs with plain hot water, or use a weak hydrogen peroxide solution to rinse the shells. To prevent the rinse water from getting into the shell eggs are always sprayed to rinse them, never submerged. In fact, food safety laws prevent eggs from being submerged during any part of the washing process.
Even if bleach is used as a rinse though, it is completely safe. The concentration of bleach is very very small (laws prevent the bleach concentration from being above 200 parts/million in the rinse water) and will not get into the inside of the egg. The concentration for hydrogen peroxide rinses is even smaller than that.
I am all about the pastured eggs!! My husband and I own a small condo that we are going to be listing for sale. Our HOA certainly would NOT approve of chickens, so until we can get our own bit of land to have some chickens (and goats and an aquaponics setup), I am trading a friend every week, fresh-baked (delicious organic) bread for farm-fresh eggs!!
Sally Fallon wrote a book called Nourishing Traditions (http://amzn.to/2aB7dnl) that goes in to detail about all the differences between CAFO eggs and farm-fresh eggs. Apparently, the Omega-3-6-9 balance is off when the hens don’t get to eat what God created them to eat! No surprise there.
Hi Mama B. – I’m glad you mentioned Sally Fallon’s book in your post. It pretty much reflects my own lifestyle nutrition choices, but I’ve just sent a copy to my Mum in the hopes that she will better understand some of the things I tell her (after all, if it’s in a book…). I’m so fortunate that she taught me about nutrition when I was a child, but some of her government-inspired ideas are definitely out of whack. As a Canadian, I apologize to you all for canola oil… Cheers E
Best book ever. About food that’s NOT on your face, I mean. 🙂 Betty has the other best book ever.
Emily – I had to respond because your comment on canola oil made me laugh out loud. 🙂 Right on. I just happened to read something where someone said, “Are people actually STILL eating canola oil?” Hopefully it will phase out…hopefully…maybe?
Unfortunately, like SUVs, coca-cola, McDonalds and obesity, canola oil is now arriving in Europe. Here it seems to be produced in Germany and Austria, and is marketed as Rapsöl (Rape oil), since the “rape” meaning doesn’t translate as such). Sally Fallon’s excellent book comments on canola oil, possible dangers and the deodorizing process, but I don’t think she ventures into the actual process that soy, corn, canola, rice etc. oil undergoes.
Maybe we can ask Lesley to do an exposé on oil production? People (my Mum included) wouldn’t consume any of the above oils (and olive oil if not EV) if they knew about the chemical oil extraction process, heating and further processing and refining to remove the resulting chemical taste. Blah!
Weird. What I would call rape seed oil (or rapsolja) is considered very healthy here in Sweden. I try and buy only the eco, locally produced oil, but still. That, and olive oil, are the only oils I use.
Agree with Lin. Rapeseed oil (at least cold pressed and organic, etc) is sometimes even considered better than olive oil… it can easily be produced locally and done in places where water supply isn’t a problem, like it can be in the southern European countries where olive oil is produced. Not to be all down on you but it also seems to have been around for absolute ages, but it’s definitely gotten trendier and more noticeable in recent years – at least the ‘fancy’ stuff! 🙂
Hi all – have just opened a thread in the Crunchy Community about canola / rape seed / colza oil, since it really has nothing to do with the great post about eggs. Lesly – any thoughts about a blog entry about various oils and their production methods?
We have a couple of friends with chickens – they have such a great personality!
An egg white face mask is pretty good as well – just whipped up egg whites, spread on your face until they dry, and then wipe off with warm water. Although I’m looking forward to trying the paper towel trick.
yay! I always love finding new things for my hair, it’s the one thing about myself I truly love, and I love to pamper it. I can’t wait to try the egg yolk conditioning idea and the egg white pore mask. My husband gets eggs from a coworker who raises chickens, and good golly miss molly are those eggs delicious.
Does anyone have any comments on raising ducks versus raising chickens?
Yes! Ducks are definitely messier 😉 They don’t need a pond persay, but they are much cleaner (and I daresay, happier) if they get to do their natural thing and splash around. Depending on the breed of duck you choose, they can lay almost as reliably as chickens, believe it or not. Khaki Campbells are known to lay upwards of 300 eggs per year! Duck eggs are usually more rich than chicken eggs due to a higher protein and fat content. And they make UH-mazing custards because of it. Hope this helps 🙂
As someone who has a degree in Poultry Science from a top university, participates in poultry health research, and manages the food safety and quality program for an egg company (organic, don’t get mad at me!), I thought I would point out a couple inaccuracies in your post.
First of all, you say that vegetarian-fed hens aren’t “allowed to run around eating bugs”. This isn’t necessarily true. First of all vegetarian-fed does not mean organic, but organic DOES mean vegetarian-fed (take a look at the USDA laws for the National Organic Program [NOP]). Vegetarian-fed and organic both mean no animal protein has been fed, however, organic hens MUST be allowed access to the outdoors. Check your organic egg supplier, because some companies do not allow the birds onto actual pasture, just onto porches (anything from Cal-Maine, for example, is likely to be on a porch, while anything from Farmers Hen House, Organic Valley, Phil’s Fresh Eggs, etc are on actual grass) and being outdoors means they can and WILL get bugs. Doesn’t mean that bugs are the primary source of protein (they’re not), but they will get them. Bugs are not regulated as part of the whole vegetarian-fed thing. There’s a reason why the organic farms I supervise hear very few crickets at night!
Second, Canthaxanthin is NOT used to make egg yolks darker, at least not with organic hens! No, no, no, no, no! With conventional (caged) eggs it’s possible it’s used, but call and ask any organic company, or even some cage-free companies, and they will tell you the four ingredients used to darken yolks are: alfalfa meal (ground up alfalfa leaves), marigold petals (also ground up) paprika (yes, paprika – that stuff is packed with carotenoids, which is what makes the yellow in the yolk darker or lighter) and/or flax seed! Canthaxanthin is absolutely an inorganic compound and any company adding it to their feed but selling their eggs as organic would have their certification stripped away so quickly you wouldn’t know what happened. Even most conventional companies are more likely to use alfalfa or flax seed – bottom line it’s cheaper!
Third, the egg-float trick is NOT fool-proof, and should NOT be relied about to check the freshness of an egg. Putting salt in the water, first of all, will change how the egg behaves. The salt is more likely to make the egg float, because a) salt changes the density of the water, making it easier for the egg to float, and b) a higher concentration of salt in the water than in the egg white will stimulate osmosis, drawing water out of the shell, also making the egg float. Freshness of the egg is determined by the size of the air cell inside the shell, in most cases. Generally, the smaller the air cell, the fresher the egg (which is where the fresh sinks, old floats thing comes from – less air in the shell = heavier egg). But not always. Eggs stored at higher temperatures will have larger air cells because more evaporation has occurred. Eggs which have been washed will lose water more quickly than eggs that haven’t because the cuticle which blocks the shell pores has been removed. Rule of thumb for me as a poultry professional: eggs can be considered fresh up to one month past the sell-by date at the end of the carton. If the eggs start to smell “eggy”, or you don’t like how runny the white is getting (runny whites mean there’s more air in them), toss them. Otherwise, they’re fine to use. One month past the sell-by date, it’s probably time to get a fresh carton.
Also, the coating on the egg is called the cuticle, not the bloom. 🙂
I just wanted to share what I know about eggs and their production. All of this said, it’s still awesome that people can and want to have their own backyard flocks! But as someone whose life work is dedicated to working with chickens (and a dedicated reader of Crunchy Betty!) I wanted to clear up those few things that weren’t quite right.
Thank you for your comment. Very interesting.
Would you know why some European countries, like France, don’t refrigerate their eggs in grocery stores? I once read that it has to do with the eggs not being washed and stripped of their bacterias like here.
Natalie, you’re right, a lot of European countries don’t refrigerate their eggs. The reasoning behind this is the cuticle; its natural purpose is to provide a bacteria barrier for the egg, so leaving it on gives a natural level of protection on the egg, therefore not always needing the same level of refrigeration. So it comes down to how different cultures handle their food safety measures – in the US people don’t want to see feathers, dirt, etc. stuck to their eggs, so they are washed and then refrigerated to compensate for the egg’s natural protection from bacteria being removed. In Europe people don’t mind seeing stuff on their eggs, so they go the more “natural” route. Personally I like to refrigerate my eggs regardless, since I figure better safe than sorry, but it’s ok to do it the other way too as long as you aren’t getting the shells wet without actually washing them.
Laura, I have a few questions for you. FYI, I have backyard hens, I refrigerate all of my unwashed eggs, and use them in order. If I take some eggs out of the fridge so they can come to room temperature, does the condensation on the egg remove the cuticle, or would it still be there after the condensation dries up? If I use a cloth to remove stuck-on fluff, am I removing the cuticle as well? Also, is there a “best” way to wash an egg before use, since I’ve read about different temps driving bacteria into the egg through the pores? Thanks VERY much! I loved this post!
Hi Marsha!. No, the condensation on the shell from tempering the eggs won’t remove the cuticle, though washing will. If you’re using a cloth to tidy up the shells that can remove some of the cuticle, but not all of it – you should be just fine.
As far as a “best” way to wash eggs, here is what I like to do with eggs from my backyard flocks: when you wash them, make sure you use hot water. Not scalding hot, but warm enough to get the shells clean. Commercial facilities use water that’s anywhere from 90-120 degrees, which is warm enough to kill anything icky hanging out on the shell. Add a little soap to the water and begin washing, but don’t soak the eggs for longer than it takes to wash each individual one. Soaking is where you can get bacteria through the pores, so it’s best to avoid it. If you have a batch of especially crusty eggs, as sometimes happens if your hens have gotten dirty feet before laying their eggs, and you’re worried washing won’t get the shells clean enough, you can rinse the eggs in a very mild bleach solution. A cap-full in a gallon of hot water should be plenty.
Hope that helps!
That helps so much! Thanks a lot for answering! 😀
Thank you so much Laura. People I know in Europe do refrigerate their eggs at home, it is just grocery stores that don’t store them in a cold section, which can be very startling! And yes, they do wash them before use, but just under running water – like washing an apple. Thanks again.
Hello! I’m in Europe (Sweden + UK) and I store the (free range organic) eggs I buy at room temperature for up to or even over a month past the use buy date. I usually do the water test (but I’ve never heard about adding salt water before, and don’t really see why I would need to!) and then crack it open in a separate bowl if I’m unsure about its freshness. So far I haven’t found a single bad egg! Most of my friends here seem to store their eggs in the fridge but it’s really not necessary to do so. I think it’s a bit of a modern misconception that you should – just like some people think that storing tomatoes, apples and bread in the fridge will keep them nice longer. (It doesn’t. It just makes them taste kinda bad…)
On a similar note, the eggs I buy mostly look like they’ve been washed, so I wouldn’t worry too much about the cuticle being removed and bacteria getting into the egg. They seem to keep for ages anyway. Hope that helps! 🙂
dear laura F, do you have a chicken blog we can follow..love all your info here.
I’m slowly working my way into blogging and I love your idea of keeping a feature on raising backyard chickens! Thanks for motivating me to get back to blogging!
Thanks for sharing your knowledge, Laura! I definitely must’ve dropped the ball on the vegetarian fed thing (to be honest, it was the one point that I didn’t go back and research, because I’ve read it in so many places for years and years, I just thought it was common *true* knowledge).
I had no intentions of suggesting that vegetarian-fed and organic were the same – simply that neither were fed animal parts during production. Sometimes when you write a blog post, you have to condense everything down to the most minimal space possible, so I gave a quick and dirty explanation that neither vegetarian-fed nor organic were fed animal parts.
Neither did I have any intentions of suggesting organic eggs were fed canthaxanthin (nor did I say that anywhere …).
And, finally, all the farmers I’ve talked to call the “cuticle” the “bloom,” as do several egg producer sites online … but it’s good to know the proper name.
Whew. You should’ve written this post for me! <3
I’m glad to share – I knew what you meant but after working with eggs for so long, I didn’t want there to be any confusion. There is so much information floating around out there, and I love seeing someone in the blogosphere bring up the subject of eggs!
Nice post, Lesley and thanks for the clarifications, Laura. I live in Italy and am happy to eat my un-refrigerated farm fresh eggs. One question for Laura – what about egg **size** or classification? I’ve heard that we should try to avoid Extra-large eggs since laying a jumbo egg puts unnecessary stress on the hen (ouch, I can easily imagine that it would, but I suppose our anatomy is somewhat different from a hen and from what the egg laying process conjures up in my imagination). Can you tell us anything about egg size grading? Are CAFO hens forced into producing Extra large eggs, or is the grading done after laying and some eggs are just naturally smaller or larger? Thanks!
Hi Emily! So here’s the cool thing about egg sizes – the size of the egg a hen lays is mostly related to her age and not much else. When a hen starts laying she will lay very small eggs. There may be a few whoppers in there with double yolks, but for the most part first eggs are little. As the hen gets older her eggs will get bigger, and for the majority of her adult life she will lay eggs that can be classified as “large” and “extra large”. By the time she reaches a year or so old, her egg size has continued to increase and she will be laying lots of jumbos. Environment also plays a part in egg size – in the summer when it is warmer a hen naturally lays smaller eggs, and will lay much larger eggs in the winter. If you’ve ever noticed that it’s much easier to find jumbo eggs in the store in the winter that’s why.
In a commercial egg laying operation, hens are never “forced” to lay a certain size egg. You can influence the size of the egg somewhat, but it is by no means forcing. Egg size can be influenced by the amount of protein the bird consumes. In the same way that a high-protein diet will help a body builder build muscle mass, a high-protein diet will stimulate a hen to produce larger eggs. Egg farms carefully monitor the protein levels in their feed to actually keep the eggs at large and extra large sizes. There will always be hens who produce jumbo eggs no matter what, but in the commercial egg world we actually try to keep the eggs from being too large! It is definitely a little easier for a hen to lay a large egg vs a jumbo, and it is also more cost effective for the farmer. On the market, a large or extra large egg is worth much more than a jumbo egg. Large and extra large are the most popular sizes, and are the most efficient to produce.
Egg grading is always done after the egg has been weighed. Once the eggs arrive at the grading facility for processing and packaging, what happens is a little different in the United States vs Italy. In the US the eggs are sent through a machine that washes, dries, and packs them into cartons. After washing, the eggs first passed over a lighted box called a “candler”, where a worker can easily see any cracked eggs and throw them out. After the candler comes a second crack detector, which uses a sound frequency to determine if a shell has a crack in it, and then the go over a series of scales. These scales will sort the eggs by weight (medium, large, extra large, etc), so that they can be sent down the machine into the correct area for their size. The eggs are then packed into a carton, and are refrigerated. In Europe the process is the same, except the washing and refrigeration steps are omitted.
Does that help any? I know it’s a lot of information!
Hi Laura, many thanks for all of the insights and information. My farm-fresh eggs are generally of varying sizes in a six pack, so now I know that it’s due to hen age. I was interested to read about the candling process; I thought that was to check for fertilized eggs, which now that I think of it, could easily be prevented in commercial laying situations, so probably not an issue. Okay, now I’m stoked to go talk to my egg seller and will ask if I can visit the farm and say hello to the chickens. Will try to send you privately a photo of my 92 year old auntie with her chickens – I always like feeding the chickens with her when I visit.
Thanks for mentioning the differences between N America and Europe. So often, when considering food / nutrition info and choices, we overlook regional traditions, processes and legality. I’m a sommelier , so don’t get me started on wine, cheese or olive oil or this post will become very long! Cheers – E
Egg size is not “mostly” dependent on age–that is misleading. True, any pullet will usually lay a smaller-than her usual egg at first and then, after about 2 years, when laying slows, her eggs get larger in size. But the truth is, some breeds and some hens are just born to lay a larger egg than others. I have a Marans hen that has layed jumbo eggs from nearly her first egg. My little bantam lays pee wees that barely move the egg scale. Even when she’s an old biddy, she’s not going to be laying jumbos.
Secondly, most factory farms do not keep laying hens around long enough to the point where they’d be laying the larger, less frequent eggs, associated with older age. Most have an “all-in, all-out” approach–“all out” meaning that they “dispose of” all hens as soon as productivity slows down. These farms keep a close eye on their profit margins–they aren’t going to spend time and money on feed for a hen that lays 2 eggs a week, even if they can be classified as Jumbo.
Also, a hen will naturally slow down egg production in the winter, when the days are shorter. Factory farms use artificial light to keep production rates up. And I won’t get into forced molting…
The information I presented above is correct. I have a degree in poultry management and I have worked in the poultry industry professionally for over a decade. I appreciate your comments, however, my response was based on my professional experience.
Different breeds of hens do not “just lay larger eggs”. Genetics has very little influence on egg size. A bantam, like the one you mentioned, will never lay a jumbo egg because it is not physically possible, due to the size of the hen. Bantams are a sub-species and cannot be evaluated by the same standards as a standard-sized hen.
Second, “factory” farms are not the only ones watching their margins – all-in all-out production is the norm regardless of the size or production model of an operation. And while farms do keep birds typically only 14 months, this doesn’t mean the egg size doesn’t fluctuate over that period. Eggs start as smalls and mediums, gradually moving towards extra large and jumbo by the end of the flock cycle. The size of eggs being produced at the end of the flock cycle is determined largely by the feed and environment of the bird, rather than its’ age, at that point. I have one year old hens laying jumbo eggs, and one year old hens laying large eggs, and the only difference is the protein content of their feed and the temperature of the barn.
Oh, and by the way, even backyard farmers supplement their hens with light in the winter. It is perfectly acceptable to do so. Backyard farmers selling their eggs to others are also going to be aware of their profit margins.
As for molting, the practice is uncommon, but when done, is performed to strict guidelines designed with the welfare of the birds in mind.
I agree that genetics have a lot to do with egg size. We have quite a few different breeds of chickens and some breeds lay larger eggs just like some breeds lay different colors of eggs. For the most part, the larger the chicken the larger the egg but not always.
I live near farms and my father has chickens so I know since child that Pastures eggs are way more healthy that others and more tasty! The cakes made from those eggs have another texture and flavour! That’s way Jamie Oliver has h is owns chickens. About cosmetics, the egg white are great to be face mask!
Kisses Sofia G
We get most of our eggs from a local farmer for $1 a dozen. When I can get them, I usually get several dozen because my husband and daughter LOVE them. I’m not a big egg fan, but I will admit to eating them on occasion. I love how versatile the egg is – so many recipes that you can make with them and they don’t all taste egg-y. 🙂 Anyway, I have planned a “field trip” very soon to check out my egg source. I saw a picture not long ago of a CAFO chicken farm that brought tears to my eyes and almost gave me nightmares. I haven’t bought commercial eggs since. We are on a small fixed income, but there are some things that are non-negotiable. Cruelty to make a buck will not be supported by my family’s money. Wonderful blog today! Thanks for all the tips on using the whole egg!
“We are on a small fixed income, but there are some things that are non-negotiable. Cruelty to make a buck will not be supported by my family’s money. Wonderful blog today! Thanks for all the tips on using the whole egg!”
i love that you said that. <3
I am definitely going to look into finding a local farmer – great idea!
I wanted to ask you about your assertion that so-called “free range” eggs are unquestionably better than commercial eggs. I know that the “free range” label means is that the chickens had “access to the outdoors,” but that some commercial farms will follow the letter but not the spirit of the law, having a door to a tiny outdoor area that most of the chickens can’t even reach.
I don’t want to pay a premium on eggs to support farms that engage in this unethical labeling of eggs (technically “free range” according to the USDA, but not free range in any meaningful way). Do you know of any brands that are *actually* free range?
I have 5 hens I bought this past December. They’ve been laying for 4 weeks now, and the eggs are absolutely delicious. City ordinance won’t let me have them free-range, but I have their coop attached to a fenced (with netting overhead) 12’x18′ run, so they get fresh air and sunshine every day from sunrise to sunset. They love scraps from my neighbor’s garden (and my neighbors love the gift of a few eggs a week), and they get chicken feed as well. If you have a little room in the backyard, and your local law allows, GET CHICKENS! They don’t stink, if properly cared-for, and they require less attention/time than a cat. Honestly!! Give it some thought, and do some research….just like any other animal, they require daily care, but they provide soooooo much entertainment in return!
One of my friends on Facebook just posted an ad for fresh eggs from her brother’s chickens! I know what I’m doing!
I get eggs from a family in my town that keeps chickens in their backyard. They are wonderful, even though I know they are getting a supplemented diet of feed in addition to the grubs and grass. My mom uses the cleaned, dried shells and grinds them very fine. She then adds a little to her dogs food as a calcium supplement. Don’t do it with commercial eggs though. Also, I had the worst time trying to peel my farm fresh eggs after hard boiling. I found that if you wait a few days before cooking them that helps. And, roll them around in the pan to create little cracks after you cook them but before you add cold water they are much easier to peel then.
Try adding a few tablespoons of VINEGAR to the boiling water.-After boiling, crack eggs a little,then let sit in COLD water for 5++minutes…it really helps with the peeling of our fresh eggs!
If you will bring your water to a boil before you put the eggs in the pan the fresh eggs will peel better. We have 20+ hens and one rooster. I used to keep eggs for a couple weeks just so I could boil and peel them easy but then learner this trick from my nephew. Before this I tried salting the water, poking a small hold in the big end and any other thing I heard or read. BTW, we enjoy our chickens and our Sheltie loves to herd them!
I agree with Tammy. I’ve boiled straight from collecting the fresh eggs. But I poke the big end a little before putting them in the already boiling water. This allows the gases to release and I find really makes a difference in peeling. Place in boiling water for 15 minutes and then a bowl of ice water for 15 minutes. Fool proof! I have 14 hens and 1 rooster. They are so spoiled that they rush me when they see me coming in hopes I’m carrying treats!
We get our eggs from my parent’s farm as we don’t have room to raise our own chickens. They’re pastured chickens on an organic farm, so they’re very happy and treated very well. My husband, raised on “mainstream” food, has gotten quite spoiled since we got married. He refuses to eat any egg that did not come from my parent’s chickens. I also took a picture of one of the pastured eggs vs. a CAFO egg, and the difference was very noticeable! CAFO eggs are just nasty!
Crunched up egg shells can also be sprinkled around plants to help keep slugs away. 🙂
We have 4 chickens. 2 are laying, and 2 will be in a month or so. They are spoiled rotten. They love all our vegetable/fruit/grain leftovers. We have just been composting the eggshells, but now I have loads of new ideas. Thanks! I can’t wait to try the inner shell membrane under my eyes 🙂
Great information! Loved this post!
The Shady Lady
We raise our own. Instead of pasture they have the forest to roam and eat from though we do supplement with feed and garden scraps. We have 40+ hens three roosters and currently 25 chicks that hatched this spring. They are all spoiled rotten!! Our eggs sell out every week!
I would absolutely love to raise my own pigeons, but sadly we need a permit to have chickens in our city and our yard is pretty full of plants as it is.
Not pigeons, I meant chickens. Pigeons would be cool too 🙂