Get Cracking With EggsApr 5th, 2012 | By Cecilia | Category: show tips, the show
Factory farmed or pastured? Once you’ve eaten eggs from pastured chickens, you’ll have a hard time going back to store bought. The yolks of pastured eggs from local farms (or from your own backyard flock) are darker and stand higher, and the whites are firmer. In 2007, Mother Earth News conducted testing on typical grocery store eggs and pastured ova, and discovered that compared to official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs, eggs from hens raised on pasture—eggs from backyard chickens can go in this category—may contain:
- 1/3 less cholesterol
- 1/4 less saturated fat
- 2/3 more vitamin A
- 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
- 3 times more vitamin E
- 7 times more beta carotene
Storing eggs. Food safety experts say it is best to store eggs between 35°F and 40°F, on a shelf in the refrigerator in their original carton (not loose in the “egg compartment” in the refrigerator door). However, growing up, my Aunt Maggie—who was a chicken farmer—would periodically bring our family more eggs than we could accommodate in our refrigerator; we kept the overflow in a box in the back of our front door coat closet. The eggs were always good. We never got sick. I later learned that may have been because she did not wash the eggs before delivering them to us, and so they retained their protective coating. Or, we were just very, very lucky.
Fresh or foul? Sometimes eggs sit in the refrigerator for a long time before we get to them, and then we’re left wondering if they’re good to use. Check the dates on the end of the carton. There will be two of them: the Julian Date and the sell by date. The Julian Date is the date the eggs were packed and the numbers are 001, which corresponds to the first day of January, to 365, which corresponds to the last day of December (or 366 during a leap year). The sell by date is the last day the market can sell the eggs, but that doesn’t mean the eggs are no longer usable. In fact, most eggs (when properly stored) are perfectly edible for four to five weeks beyond that date. You can also check freshness by lowering the egg into a bowl of water. If it sinks it is fresh, if it stands on end it has some age on it but is still good to use incorporated into dishes. If it floats—compost it.
Play it safe. You will sometimes get a bad egg for reasons that have little to do with freshness. For that reason, it is always advisable that when cooking with eggs, to always break it into a separate container before putting it into your recipe.
Perfect hard boiled eggs. The problems most of us experience when making hard boiled eggs is getting that unsightly green ring around the yolk (although it is perfectly fine to eat), or ripping apart the egg when trying to peel it because the shell gets stuck to the solidified egg white (albumen). Here’s how to make perfect hard boiled eggs: 1) Do not use extremely fresh eggs. Eggs that are very fresh will not release the shell easily and you’ll end up with a pock marked egg, which is fine if you’re making egg salad, not so much if you are making deviled eggs. Your eggs should be at least a week old for hard boiled eggs; 2) Only put as many eggs in your pan as will fit in a single layer, otherwise the eggs will not cook evenly; 3) Cover the eggs with cold water so that about an inch of water it above them; 4) Add a teaspoon of baking soda to the water. This raises the pH and helps the membrane around the egg to toughen up, making it easier to peel; 5) Place the pan on high medium-high heat until bubbles start rising. Then cover the pot, take it off the heat and set a timer for 10 minutes; 6) After 10 minutes, remove the eggs from the pan and place them in an ice bath to shock them and stop the cooking; 7) Once they’re cool enough to handle, peel. Refrigerate and use within a week.
Here’s a YouTube video that demonstrates a no fuss way to peel a hard cooked egg: