Eggs, they’re a powerful protein, packed with essential vitamins, the darling of the Sunday brunch crowd and touted by many, as the perfect food, a superfood, in fact.
But how do you select a good egg? How do you navigate the dizzying plethora of egg types out there, brown, white, free-range, organic…? Gah! And, once you get those good eggs home, how should you best store them and test for freshness? Well, here‘s a handy round up of eggs-ential information, for those who want to be in the know, about eggs.
The breed of hen determines the color of an egg and there is negligible nutritional difference between the colors.
There are three consumer grades for eggs: Grade AA, A and B. The grade is determined by the interior quality of the egg and the appearance and condition of the eggshell, with Grade AA being the best. The standard egg used in recipe testing is Large AA, where the yolk and the white weigh 1 oz each.
Cage Free eggs must come from hens that have unlimited access to food and water and the freedom to roam within their area during the laying cycle.
Free Range eggs must come from hens housed in an area that allows for unlimited access to food and water, the freedom to roam within their area AND continuous access to the outdoors during their laying cycle.
Pasture-raised hens are given 108 square feet or more each, of roaming room, typically from early morning until nightfall. The newest form of pasture raised is mobile pasture. Farmers use mobile chicken coops that are rotated through fresh grass every week.
Pasture-raised hens consume a diet of feed, grass, bugs, and worms.
The uncaged hens are fed an organic diet of feed produced without pesticides or fertilizers. Metropolitan Market offers Grade AA, organic eggs, from hens that enjoy a free-range lifestyle at a local, fifth generation farm that sticks to locally made, vegetarian feed.
The hen’s feed is supplemented with an omega-3 source like flax seed, so they lay eggs that are higher in omega-3 fats.
There you have it, an egg glossary of sorts. How you choose, is up to you. In my view, the best eggs are Grade AA and come from pasture raised and/or free-range roaming hens, fed an organic diet and as I see it, the more local the farm, the better. I’m one of many people who want to know where my food comes from and that it’s in the good hands of generational farmers. For the freshest eggs check our Metropolitan Market organic eggs or our U-Pick, both brought to the store directly from the farm.
Once you decide the type of egg, check for the following:
Pop the lid and check for cracks, slime, powdery mildew, or discoloration. If present, discard the eggs.
How to Store
Refrigeration – store bought eggs need to be refrigerated. Eggs in the US are required to be washed before they arrive at the store. Washing removes the cuticle of the eggs, allowing oxygen, odors and bacteria to get into the egg.
The best way to store your eggs would be in the original cushy carton it came in, round side up. The carton padding reduces the chance of breakage and prevents the eggs from absorbing other refrigerator odors.
The best placement for the carton, is mid-fridge, back of the shelf. That is generally where the fridge temp remains most constant.
Test for Freshness
Float Test: Fill a bowl of water that is double deep as the egg is tall. If the egg sinks to the bottom and turns on the side, it’s very fresh.
If the egg sinks to the bottom but tilts up at an angle or stands on end, it’s a bit older but still good to eat.
If the egg flat out floats to the top, toss it. It is no longer a good egg.
Super fresh eggs are best for sunny-side up and frying eggs over easy because the white will hold its shape better, making for the prettiest presentation.
Slightly older eggs are great for baking and making omelets and they are great for hard boiling. The egg air cell grows larger it ages, making them easier to peel.
Visual Check: Egg yolks should stand proud, while the whites should be slightly opaque, and firm, not runny.
Hope this helps you on your hunt for a good egg, and who doesn’t want that, right? Eggs-actly!