My mother says that if you have eggs, you have a meal. It’s true! They’re good for you, easy to prepare, and are versatile enough for any meal of the day. When I started getting smarter about food, I learned a lot about them. Now, in addition to all the other things I’m snobby about, I’m also an egg snob.
I buy only pastured eggs from happy hens that roam freely outdoors. I believe animals shouldn’t suffer needlessly to provide us food since there are humane ways to raise them.
When chickens can eat what nature intended – grubs, insects, and plants – they make a better product. Not only do these eggs taste better, they’re better for you. According to nutritional testing done by Mother Earth News, pastured eggs have 4-6 times the amount of vitamin D as conventional supermarket eggs. Compared to commercial eggs, pastured eggs also have twice the amount of omega-3 fatty acids, 3 times more vitamin E and 7 times more beta carotene. That’s impressive!
Tips for Buying and Using Pastured Eggs
- Look for eggs from hens that are raised on pasture, it’s easier than you think. Check out www.eatwild.com for sources near you or shop local farmer’s markets. Did you know that you can even raise hens right in your own backyard for pastured eggs year-round? Many municipalities are beginning to allow backyard chickens as long as you follow their guidelines.
- Beware of labels like “free range” or “cage free” since they don’t tell you very much about how the hens really live. The criteria for these labels is fairly lenient and only requires that hens have access to the outdoors, maybe just a small door to the outside that’s nearly always kept closed! The hens are still cramped inside buildings with no access to a natural diet, sunshine, or fresh air.
- When eggs are labeled “organic” or “vegetarian-fed” you are only getting information about what the hens were fed, not how they were raised. These hens were most likely raised indoors.
- Don’t wash pastured eggs. When we started getting fresh eggs from a friend of ours who keeps her own chickens, some of them were speckled with dirt and maybe even chicken poo, and I was compelled to clean them. Egg shells contain a natural barrier to keep bacteria out and the inside of the egg safe for developing chicks. When you wash eggs, you simply make them more porous, allowing bacteria to get inside. Wiping eggs with a damp sponge or rinsing them with very warm water just prior to use is the best way to clean them, if you must.
- Eggs that you plan to use quickly can be stored at room temperature. In fact, eggs are not refrigerated in many countries outside the US. Refrigeration does increase the usable shelf life to several weeks. Room temperature eggs are better for baking.
- If you want to know if an egg has gone bad, simply submerge it in a bowl of water. If it sinks and stays at the bottom, you’re A-OK. If the egg floats to the top, throw it out!
- Save crushed egg shells for your garden and add a handful to the planting hole when you transplant tomatoes. Or, add them as I do to my vermicomposter – the grit is good for my worms, and they’ll turn the shells into the very best garden fertilizer!
Sites That Link to this Post
- Real Food, Decadence, and Your Health - Tomato Envy : Tomato Envy | March 25, 2014
- Fancy Mushroom Frittata Recipe - Tomato Envy : Tomato Envy | April 11, 2014
- Cooking Oils Demystified - Tomato Envy : Tomato Envy | May 18, 2016