And How To Tell If Eggs Are Fresh
Choosing the right egg for you comes down to your concern about ethics, nutrition, and cost. Regardless of your choice, eggs are an excellent source of nutrition.
You may notice a few other terms popping up on egg cartons. Unfortunately, most are little more than marketing terms.
Farm Fresh—Means nothing-no qualifications to meet.
Vegetarian-Fed—Good in theory...no weird animal products in chicken food! Chickens aren't vegetarians, they're omnivores, under natural conditions eat a lot of insects. To be healthy, a chicken needs a little animal by products, but could also mean they're missing some valuable nutrients.
Omega-3—Research indicates supplementing a chicken's diet with extra omega-3, the results aren't conclusive-especially since there are no standards for the type of feed that should be given to create omega-3 rich eggs.
TESTING EGGS FOR FRESHNESS
THE WATER METHOD—Fill a large glass with water and place a raw egg inside. If the egg sits at the bottom on its side, the egg is very fresh. If the egg sits at an angle or stands on one end, the egg is older, but still edible. If the egg floats, it should be discarded. This phenomenon is due to the increasing size of the egg's air cell as it ages.
EXAMINE THE WHITES—This method requires cracking an egg open but it's a good way to test a carton of eggs that you may have forgotten about in your refriderator. Crack an egg onto a flat surface (a plate or fry pan) and examine the consiistency of the whites. If they are viscous, don't spread much, and slightly opaque, the egg is very fresh. If they are clear, watery, and spread out widely, the egg has aged. As an egg ages, the whites begin to break down and become clear and watery.
I’ve written and taught about why it’s best to buy organic and locally-raised eggs from the farmer, when possible, and the health advantages. Readers and clients continue to be confused as to what all those marketing labels on eggs really mean. I created the two charts here to hopefully provide you with more guidance.
With holidays approaching, you’re most likely going to use more eggs than any other time so knowing what to buy, why and the freshness, just BEFORE you cook or crack open, is important. In addition, the simple “Egg Freshness” Test is invaluable. I personally have been sickened twice in the last year from organic eggs that I had just purchased with an expiration date two weeks away. I did not test the eggs prior to cracking them and since there was no unusual smell or taste I proceeded to eat them. Within a few minutes I became ill with a strange taste in my mouth followed by nausea and vomiting – no doubt, the eggs were bad. Many of my clients have had similar experiences. Now I never crack or cook an egg now without FIRST using this easy test as each egg in the carton can be fresh in varying degrees, or downright toxic. I like using a 4 cup glass measuring cup for egg-testing as there’s plenty of room to see exactly how the egg tests by its position once immersed in the water.