AN EGGDUCATION

row-of-eggs-2

 

If you’re very quiet about it, and nice and calm, the next time you come across an Ostrich, reach your hand up inside their bum.  Grab the first thing you feel and pull it out.  Hopefully it’ll be an egg. Once you’ve got hold of it, take a good look at it.  Actually, first apply some gauze and bandages, because the Ostrich will have attacked you by then.  THEN take a good look at the egg.  It will look very similar to the one you see above.

Remember that?  That’s the mammoth egg my limping hen Josephine laid.  Just after that she went off laying.  No wonder.  At close to 100 grams that particular egg was almost twice as big as a standard large egg.

Josephine’s broody now, just sitting around and not laying, probably angry at her body for betraying her in such a shocking way.

I thought today I’d give you a little bit of a lesson in eggs that’ll help you whether you get your eggs from a store,  a local farmer or your own chickens. But first …

winner

Now back to your egg lesson.

You’ve probably noticed that most recipes call for 1 large egg.  Or 2 or 3 or 5 large eggs. Always large. That’s the  standard form of measurement for eggs in recipes, but most people have no idea what a large egg actually is other than bigger than quail’s egg and smaller than a duck’s egg.  It’s a chicken sized egg.

Beyond that, we don’t know much.  Egg sizes are actually classified from pee wee to Jumbo with each category getting an acceptable size range.  Eggs are measured by weight to make things more accurate, so if you buy a carton of large eggs at the grocery store, yes they are large but they aren’t measured by size, they’re measured by weight.

eggamplesfinal

 

 

Like that egg holder?  You can learn how to make it here.

Pee Wee – 41 grams or less

Small – 42 – 49 grams

Medium – 49 – 56 grams

Large – 56 – 63

X-Large – 63-70

Jumbo – 70 grams – what the CLUCK!

WHAT IF I’M COOKING AND I DON’T HAVE A LARGE EGG?

If a recipe calls for one large egg, like my chicken burger recipe, but you only have X-large eggs because your husband went shopping instead of you and he always thinks bigger is better, don’t fret.  You can just substitute 1 X-large egg for 1 large egg.

What you CAN’T do is substitute 5 X-large eggs for 5 large eggs.  The little bit of difference in size doesn’t matter much when you’re only talking about 1 egg, but once you get up into multiples that difference in size adds up.

Here’s a handy conversion chart from the Incredible Egg website.

LargeJumboX-LargeMediumSmall
11111
22223
32334
43455
54467
65578

But what about refrigeration?  Ohhhhh there’s a great mystery behind who refrigerates their eggs and who doesn’t.  Basically it comes down to laws, as so many things do.

Laws are responsible for keeping order and maintaining a civil and democratic society. And an uncivil and undemocratic society even more.

Laws are what stop all of us from speeding and smoking pot and opening our spouse’s mail.   HAHAHAHAHAHA!  Oh, God, I almost choked on that one.

But seriously.  Laws are why some countries sell their eggs from refrigerators and others sell them from the shelves.   In countries like The United States and Canada, the law requires that anyone selling eggs must wash them prior to selling them.  This is to get any poop or bacteria that might be on the shells off of them so they don’t make their way into the egg inside. The problem is, chickens lay eggs with something called a “bloom” on them.  It’s a tiny coating the chicken puts on the egg just prior to laying it.

The chicken puts the “bloom” on the egg as a way to protect the egg from, you guessed it, poop and bacteria.  They do this to keep the eggs sterile and viable because in their mind their eggs are going to turn into little chickens and need to be protected.  When  a chicken lays an egg and then sits on it for 18 days to hatch it, that hen has to make sure the egg doesn’t go bad. Hence the bloom.  When she sits on her eggs for weeks on end, they don’t stink and go rotten and become bacteria filled (usually).  That’s because of the bloom protecting it.

Once the egg is washed, that bloom is washed off as well.

So North American food laws have egg sellers wash off the egg’s natural protection against bacteria in order to protect us from bacteria.  Yeah.  Most studies have proven that the bloom is a more effective way to protect an egg interior from salmonella etc., than washing them is.  But the law’s the law.

In other countries, mainly in Europe, eggs are not legally required to be washed so they have their bloom in tact.  That means they don’t need to be refrigerated and can be sold on the regular store shelves.

egg-infographic

Yes.  You can keep fresh, unwashed eggs in the refrigerator for 6 months and they’ll still be good.  In fact.  One month ago I put some eggs in the fridge.  In 5 months, on April 10th, 2017 we’ll meet back here to see if they’re still good.

Provided I haven’t been killed by an Ostrich in that time or incarcerated due to inappropriate behaviour at my local zoo.

64 Comments

  1. JulieD says:

    Neat! Six months, wow! Now I’m wondering how long the white stays thick- at what point it starts to get watery.
    Congratulations to Jennifer!

    • Jennifer Kirksey says:

      Thank you JulieD….I cannot believe it myself. Ok, going to finish reading about eggs. I love the way Karen writes!

  2. Paula says:

    Great timing on this post for me! One of my chickens laid a massive egg the other day and now I will go and weigh it.
    I do not refrigerate my eggs, but I do not wash them first either. I also read that if they get cold (fridge temp) then it is best to keep them that way. I have never put mine in the fridge and we are still healthy people.

  3. Tina says:

    I brought my kids up in Europe where milk and eggs were sold on shelves (unrefrigerated) and they thought it was the funniest when we moved to the US and so much was refrigerated. My daughter is 32 and still hates cold milk!

    As for sizing, I do a lot of baking and size does make a difference. A large egg should be 1/4 cup. Compensation is necessary when baking with bigger or smaller eggs.

    • Jennie Lee says:

      Can you explain why the milk isn’t spoiled? I accidentally left milk out overnight once, and it was ruined!

      • Tina says:

        Oh the milk sold on the shelves is UHT so it must be refrigerated after opening but it comes in 1 liter boxes and I’d buy a 20 pack. My kids would easily finish a liter at a sitting!

      • Tina says:

        I’m going to reply up here so it’s not so narrow. UHT is ultra high temperature pasteurization. Very common in other countries and becoming more common here, it can usually be found in grocery stores and big box stores. It’s great for countries where fridges are tiny and electricity is expensive. I always keep a few in my pantry, just in case I run out of fresh!

        • Jennie Lee says:

          Thank you very much! I’m surprised it isn’t more common here. It seems people are always having to run to the store for milk! When I was a kid, I drank lots of milk. I used to joke that my Mom was the only mother who fussed at their child to drink LESS milk! I’m 63, and I’ve never broken any bones.

  4. Sadie says:

    What does bloom look like?

  5. Ardith says:

    The things we learn from/with you, Karen. It is super cool to realize there is plenty in the world to learn about. Cheers, Ardith

  6. Thandi says:

    Ostriches are mean. They’re like feathery dragons of meanness. I might be biased though (traumatic childhood incident with a bird twice my size).
    I’m now wishing I’d weighed my cockatiel’s eggs when she last layed. Teeny tiny gorgeous little things. The vet suggested making fairy cakes with them. On a more practical note: I’m printing out your lovely infographic and putting it in my recipe file.

    • TucsonPatty says:

      Better yet, I want to Pin it on Pinterest, and my iPad “can’t find an image” to Pin. Can you out a pin it button somewhere on the graphic for the eggucation chart? Thanks for all the information. : )

      • Karen says:

        Hi TucsonPatty – it may have just been a little glitch. The image is there and it’s pinning for other people. 🙂 Try again. And thanks as always for pinning! ~ karen!

    • carolyne darimont says:

      Ostriches are proof that dinosaurs became birds

  7. Your blog is the upside of my peri-menopausal insomnia. Thanks for another fun read. 🙂

    • Michelle says:

      Omg. Thank you for saying that. You are not alone.

    • Karen says:

      LOL, I’m counting the days/months/years or whatever it is until some sort of menopause HOPING that when the day comes it’ll get rid of my migraines. ~ karen!

      • Have you tried essential oils? They’re pretty amazing. The active ingredients they contain can really help to ease inflammation. Try inhaling a combination of essential oils of Turmeric, Peppermint, Valerian and Lavender.
        You can also massage it into your temples and the back of your neck if you add an equal amount of any carrier oil. Here’s some more good advice: http://www.motherearthliving.com/Natural-Health/natural-remedies-for-migraines
        Good luck! I’ve had migraines, and these natural remedies helped me. I hope they help you.

        • Karen says:

          No, I’m afraid my migraines are the kind that are well beyond the help of essential oils. They’re the incapacitated, can’t move, can’t lay down, can’t function for 3 days kind of migraines, lol. I’ve had them since I was 18. I started taking prescription medication for them 10 years ago or so. 80% of the time the medication works. It’s the other 20% of the time I want to chop my head off. ~ karen!

  8. Jenny W says:

    I got really excited, there, for a second! Congratulations Other Jennifer 🙂

  9. jainegayer says:

    Wow, I never knew the difference between washed and unwashed. But I did know that my best friend’s hens laid the best tasting eggs I ever ate. There definitely is a difference in taste I think.

  10. maggie van sickle says:

    Good morning Karen:

    Interesting! I never knew about a bloom and I never thought you could leave eggs out of a cooler. What about farm fresh eggs? I buy mine from a farmer but never thought to ask if they are washed. They always look clean. Hmmm must ask the farmer next time now that u have educated me. Even if the bloom was intact I would still put them in the fridge. Too cautious I guess.

  11. Erin says:

    Timely.
    I was just watching a youtube video two nights ago about a farm in northern Europe. They are required by law NOT to wash their eggs, so have gone to great lengths to ensure the cleanest eggs possible in the coop.
    I think that system makes a lot more sense. We are trying to implement some of their ideas on our homestead.

  12. Cred says:

    It’s actually my understanding that’s it’s illegal for egg producers to wash eggs for sale in Europe. I read that on some chicken blog, I think it was fresh eggs daily but I can’t recall.
    The reasoning being that the fear is the eggs will become contaminated in the washing process. I’ve seen this small scale where a local farmer washes the days eggs in a tub of water and let the poopy ones soak a little longer to allow it to be scrubbed off. Ewww! The water the eggs were sitting in was gross- the bloom would have been compromised and now they were soaking in poopy water.
    I keep our duck eggs unwashed. And just wash 1/2 dozen ahead ready for use. They do store for a loooong time unwashed.
    I’d seen a useful guide for testing the age of eggs by sinking (floating) them in water- fresh eggs sink to the bottom and week by week, the older the egg, the closer it floats to the top. An indication that air has permeated the shell (floating it to the top) and thus also allowing bacteria to enter the egg. I’ve tried this test on old unwashed eggs to make sure they were still good. I’ve tested unwashed eggs that were 3 months old and they still sunk to the bottom like a fresh egg. I guess that guide is only useful to indicate the age of washed eggs.

  13. Ev Wilcox says:

    Owwie! Poor Josephine! She’s prob scared to lay another egg! So, if that egg is fertile-would a giant peep hatch out? Like King Kong Chicken?

  14. Cred says:

    And for the sake of science, I just weighed my ducks’ eggs- 1 qualifies as large and one qualifies as jumbo, the other 6 qualify as extra large. It’s a small sample size (I just used the 8 eggs that were on the counter) which is consistent with what I expected. I had thought I’d become accustomed to the size of our eggs because they seem chicken-sized in my mind.
    But they didn’t get as big as I’d expected for a duck egg. The first time we had a double- yolker, I thought one of the girls was finally laying full sized eggs, but it was a one-off, well, two-off ; ) cuz it was just two yolks inside that made it so large. We’ve only had a few doubles and the rest are just slightly larger than chicken eggs.
    I’m new to the duck game, our ducks are almost 2, and we only have two breeds, so I have limited duck experience. I’d expect egg size will differ with different breeds. Ours are considered dual purpose, with one considered a light-weight breed and the other a medium-weight and I find little difference in their egg size, so perhaps not.
    Love the eggducation posts!

    • Mel Robicheau says:

      May I ask what breeds you have? I’m interested in adding a duck or two when I move.

      • Cred says:

        Yes, of course, i love to talk duck.
        I have Cayugas, a completely black duck- feet and all, their feathers have a beautiful irridescent sheen, that is mostly greenish but ranges from blue to violet. They are a medium-weight duck with a calm demeanour, are very quiet and very cold hardy.
        The others are Welsh Harlequin, they have a pretty mixed plummage of mainly white with brownish tones and blue irridescent bar feathers. Welsh harlequin are exceptional layers (300 eggs/yr) are calm and relatively quiet. Ducks are not really loud but they chatter at you when they’re perturbed. When you herd them from a good foraging spot back to their coop, they walk ahead, all making this disgruntled, low quacking noise amongst them like they’re telling you off. And they will make loud repeated quacks to warn the others if they suspect a threat. But drakes are quiet because they don’t quack.
        I guess some breeds can be nervous (runner ducks are one). Both our breeds are good but the Cayuga are definitely more laid back, and therefore generally less vocal.
        I love both breeds but I do slightly favour the welshies.
        If you only have two, get both females. Drakes are randy buggers and need at least 3 hens to spread the love around. Mating is rather vigorous and a drake can kill a female by overbreeding her. Also, they are social birds so one duck would be lonely.
        Ducks are goofy, so entertaining but also easy to keep. Highly reccomend.

  15. Gayle'' says:

    Aww, shucks! If you had waited a week, we could have celebrated my birthday making cake. But that’s okay, I stopped public natal celebrations at 60–I figure I will celebrate my 70th when I have to start taking what I have left in my annuities after Trump gets done manipulating the economy for 3 years. Scary thought. I just hope you are still here inspiring us to pluck fresh eggs from the bum of the local ostrich!

    Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to an April Eggs Benedict recipe. I truly enjoy your writing!

  16. Linda in Illinois says:

    So glad you are around to teach us new things every day.
    thank you Karen

  17. Mary W says:

    Thanks for the conversion chart. I usually think if one is good, three are better. Having a reason will stick in my pea brain better. Like a 3 yo, I’m always wanting to know why, why, why. Can’t wait for Spring and the results from your egg test. Daddy always said in WW11 that they were fed really old eggs without any problems and now I know why. I also love to eat fresh eggs that haven’t been refrigerated but am afraid to use eggs from local ladies that let their kids get them from “nests” all over the yard – never knew how old they really were – at least I won’t feel like they are poisonous. Next up, testing fresh eggs for freshness when we aren’t sure.

  18. Hi Karen
    I’m wondering if you or your chicken friendly vet has any more information about chickens that lay super thin shells (or sometimes just the membrane) eggs. I’ve got one chicken of my 4 that has been doing this for months and months now. Sometimes I can grab the egg before another girl breaks it and some mornings when I go to let them out I find a membrane eggs under the roost.
    Clearly something is very wrong, but she still seems to love being a chicken! I’m hoping that when she stops laying for the winter that some balance might return, but otherwise I have no other ideas of what to try. I recently started giving a treat of fermented SCRATCH AND PECK organic layer feed a few days a week. Any other wisdom out there anyone??

    • Jennifer says:

      Are you giving them extra calcium? Like oyster shells?
      I also give them crushed egg shells. The shells are a great source of calcium and the chickens love eating them.

      • I’ve done all that and continue to. They get a ton of dark greens, yogurt, and oyster shell too. All the other girls have super shells, so it is just Charlotte, my Buff Orpington who has the problem. I also have a RI Red, and 2 Plymouth Barred Rocks. The other strange thing about her is her love of blueberries. If they are in or around the yogurt she goes for them first. No one else shows any interest in them!

  19. Karin says:

    I read a book by a Tristan Jones, an old sailor, who slathered his eggs in vaseline and they kept for a year. Not saying I’d eat it, but if your boat is stuck in ice for 6 months I guess you can’t be picky.

  20. MaggieB says:

    Congratulations Jennifer! Enjoy the browsing and the purchasing – so not jealous, not!

    Yes here in Germany eggs are sold on the shelf and milk (long life/UHT) – it is funny hearing newly arrived ladies from the forces base get rather “excited” that eggs are on the shelf and almost apoplectic when they realise the bright multi-coloured and spotted eggs in the plastic packages are boiled eggs – also on the shelf or in a basket on the counter at the bakery!! And my mother (UK) has always had eggs in an old pottery dough bowl on the counter.

    One of the perks of being in the country is that our local organic farm is 3km down the road with their own milk herd – so lurverly, pasteurised – and raw – milk by the litre. In lovely brown glass 1L bottles. People drive over from all over the region to get the really literally fresh milk.

    And another request if possible for a Pin for the Infographic, pretty please with a bloom on it!

  21. Jessie says:

    “but you only have X-large eggs because your husband went shopping instead of you and he always thinks bigger is better”

    So how long have you known my husband?

  22. Elaine says:

    I’m loving the education I’m receiving courtesy of your website, Karen! You should have been a schoolteacher as you make any subject easy to understand and fun! As I’ve said before, my parents raised chickens during the War and this latest post explains why our eggs sat out in a bowl. We had no fridges or even iceboxes back in the 40’s. When we arrived here in 1948, we had to live with an aunt and uncle for a year in downtown Toronto and I remember being fascinated by her ice box! I loved receiving some ice chips from the iceman; my reward for giving his horse a carrot!

  23. Julie says:

    I’m kinda wondering how long a washed, unrefrigerated egg would keep! When I was growing up (’60s and early ’70s), my mother always kept the eggs on a shelf in one of the kitchen cabinets. We did not have chickens!

  24. Molly says:

    I did one of those live-and-study-on-a-sailboat programs many years ago out of Woods Hole, Mass. For our extended voyage, we had unrefrigerated eggs because cold storage on a boat is limited and expensive to operate. They must have gotten the eggs from a local farm. At the time, I learned from that experience that once an egg is refrigerated it must stay refrigerated. I never knew about the bloom part. Cool!

  25. Flash says:

    you are one crazy gal! you best make sure its a female Ostrich. Thanks for the laughs
    Flash

  26. Jennifer Kirksey says:

    Thank You Karen and Thank You Lee Valley!

    I’m just reading along getting my Eggducation on and BAM…there’s my name and I cannot believe it! Karen! Karen! Karen! I’M SO EXCITED that now I have to calm down to go back to reading about eggs! Your articles are always entertaining and the BEST! THE VERY BEST!!!! You always crack me up and never stop writing! Huge Hugs!!!!!

  27. This post is awesome! After moving to the US from England I was shocked that eggs were in the refrigerator, in fact it didn’t even occur to me that they would be there so I spent hours in the store looking for eggs like I was completely crazy.

    My family are obsessed with washing eggs from our hens and putting them in the refrigerator. Maybe they will think twice after reading this!

  28. elisabeth says:

    as I was very intrigged by why European (in my case, the French) keep their eggs outside fridges unlike North americans, I also did some research : I read that once an egg has been refrigerated (right out of the hen’s ****), the cold chain should not be interrupted as it is the temperature shock that makes the eggshell porous and lets the bacteria creep inside the egg : once in the fridge, always in the fridge. I guess there are many explanationsbut I like the BLOOM one 🙂 .
    Farmers around my French countryhouse would never put eggs in the fridge ; they were kept in cardboard boxes in a cupboard. Since we usually ate them all “à la coque” that same day , preserving them for 6 months was never a concern! There is nothing as good and delicate as a fresh egg with an orange yolk, with little pieces of buttered baguette dipped inside. Simple pleasure that I still remember to this day.

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