How do you know your eggs are fresh?

Not all eggs are equal. The nutritional value of an egg is very different based on the diet of the bird that they come from. The size of an egg differs based on both the age and the breed of the chicken that laid it. Plus the freshness of the egg is dependant on how long ago it was laid.

Lets start with egg size…

I’ve touched on this in an earlier post (https://littlefieldmice.com.au/blogs/all-things-chicken/18495555-eggs-are-truly-amazing). The first eggs that a bird lays are called “pullet eggs”. They are smaller than “normal” and are more yolk than white to begin with. Here is a size comparison for you against a 50c piece…

The light blue egg is a pullet egg from our Araucana breed. In a few weeks time, she will be laying eggs similar in size to the buff coloured egg in the middle. The blue egg only weighs 35g. It is still perfectly good to eat but if you are using it in a recipe, you would need to use 2 of this size to make up a “standard” egg size.

The buff coloured egg was laid by one of our smaller Plymouth Rock girls. The larger the bird generally the larger the egg. This egg weighs 50 grams.

The brown egg is a “normal” supermarket weight at 61 grams. It was laid by one of our Barnevelder girls.

But what about egg colour? …

I’m not concerned here about egg shell colour. The colour of the shell is strictly based on the breed of the bird. I am more concerned about the colour of the yolk.

Generally, store bought eggs have a yellow yolk and a slightly cloudy white. To us, this is an indication of a poorly cared for bird. A yolk should be almost orange in colour, indicating that the bird had access to excellent feed. This could be in the form of a balanced grain diet, access to pasture and/or vegetable matter or even access to foraged protein such as insects.

Believe it or not, but chickens are NOT vegetarian. Given the choice between insects and grain, chickens will take insects any day! Slugs, crickets, caterpillars, moths, mice … anything that is not quick enough to get past the quick dart of a chickens’ head is immediately dinner. It is amazing to watch a chicken corner a mouse … they are quicker than cats once they have a taste for the little critters.

Finally, freshness…

Those of you who poach eggs, may notice that some eggs simply fall apart when you poach them directly into boiling water. This is because the egg is older than 7 days from being laid. The internal membrane that protects any potential embryo in fertile eggs, is present in normal store bought eggs. This membrane breaks down and stops the egg being able to “stick together” when poached.

You can also check how fresh an egg is by submerging it in water. Inside each egg is an air sac. As the egg gets older, the air sack gets bigger as the yolk and egg white shrink as they deteriorate. When submerged, a fresh egg will lay down flat on its side. If an egg starts to lift up and stand on one end, it is still edible but not very fresh. NEVER try to eat an egg that floats. The air sac in a floating egg is essentially filled with “rotten egg gas” … get rid of it!

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