The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

3:54 PM

Food Tip - Choosing Eggs

Posted by Truffle Shuffle

Choosing Eggs
Eggs are a common food product in most households.  Whether used as an ingredient to make something else, or starring as the main dish, eggs are consumed all over the world.  From baked goods, to omelettes, to mayonnaise, the egg is a nutritious and tasty ingredient you find everywhere.
But how do you know which eggs to pick?  Most supermarkets nowadays have so many different types of eggs, it can be very confusing to choose the right one.  Here are a few pointers about how to pick eggs.
Date
Eggs are perishable.  Be sure to check the date on the package, to make sure they are not going to spoil.
Cracks
The thin shells on eggs crack very easily.  Open the package, to make sure that every egg is fully intact; do not buy a package with cracked eggs.
Color
You may see white or light brown, or dark brown eggs.  Other than visual appeal, there is no real difference between them.
Size
Eggs come in different sizes, and this is ultimately to your discretion.  If you are following a recipe that does not state the size of the egg (such as "one large egg") it is best to go with a standard large egg, which is the most commonly-found.
In the U.S., here are the sizes available, from smallest to largest: peewee, small, medium, large, extra large, jumbo (note that most grocery stores will not carry small eggs).  A medium egg is roughly 90% of a large egg, while a jumbo egg is roughly 110%.
Cage-Free
A cage-free egg is one that comes from a chicken that is not kept in a cage.  However, this does not necessarily indicate that they are kept in the open, free-roaming.
Free-Range
Literally, this should mean that the chickens that laid these eggs were left to roam outside, not stuck in a cage or shed.  However, with the regulations that are currently in place, this may not necessarily be the case.  The chickens may in fact be kept in tiered aviaries.  However, this is definitely the more humane option when compared to regular eggs, if you do not have a direct supplier that you are sure lets their chickens roam freely.
Organic
Organic eggs are eggs from chickens that have been fed only organic feed.  This means that the feed has been grown naturally, and without the use of pesticides.  It also means that the chickens have not been given any unnatural growth treatments.  Organic eggs are always cage-free, whether or not they are labeled as such, and these chickens must be let outside.  Therefore, this is the healthiest, and most humane option.  No matter whether the package says "cage-free," "free-range," "grain fed," or anything else, if it says "organic," you are buying the safest eggs in the market.

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