I’m very passionate about food and believe that this is one of the most important optimisations people can do to improve their wellbeing and longevity. Eggs are a common product in many diets, so it makes sense to discuss some misconceptions about what types we’re buying and how we’re storing and processing them.
In Spain, as in other European countries, eggs are classified based on their farming methods, ranging from 0 to 3. This numbering system is part of the European Union’s egg labeling standards, and here’s what each number signifies:
- 0 – Organic: Hens have access to the outdoors and are fed an organic diet. They have more space per bird, both inside the coop and outdoors.
- 1 – Free-Range: Hens have outdoor access. The indoor conditions and feed are less regulated than organic.
- 2 – Barn: Hens are kept indoors but have more space than caged hens. They can move around freely inside the barn.
- 3 – Cage: Hens are kept in cages with regulated space per bird. This method is less common now due to animal welfare concerns.
While this system indicates how the hens were raised, it doesn’t directly translate to the taste or nutritional content of the eggs. What the hens are fed and their overall health can have a more significant impact on these aspects. For instance, hens fed a diet rich in certain nutrients can produce eggs with higher levels of those nutrients, like omega-3 fatty acids.
It’s also worth noting that taste preferences can be subjective. Some people might prefer the taste of eggs from free-range or organic hens due to perceived quality differences, while others might not notice a significant difference. The key to choosing eggs often comes down to personal preference, nutritional content, and ethical considerations related to animal welfare and environmental impact.
Which Size Should You Buy?
Most people these days go for the larger sizes, hence we see L or XL eggs promoted in our supermarkets. However, the smaller eggs actually tend to be the better ones.
Small eggs or Pullet eggs as they are also known, are generally laid by younger hens, hens in their prime who are laying particularly super tasty eggs. But, because we don’t think small eggs are good value for money, we unwittingly force farmers to sell them cheap into the leisure sector, often as liquid egg. This means all those lovely, super tasty yolks are just not appreciated the way they should be!
If you think about it, many people believe the egg yolk is the best bit, right? Well, the egg yolk in a small egg is exactly the same size as the egg yolk in a large egg. Nutritionally the values are minimally different, so this is not the main concern. Taste, appearance and consistency are the differentiators.
Pullet eggs have bright yellow yolks, so they look sunny and cheerful on your plate. Because of their small size, they also have a higher proportion of yolk to white, making them richer than regular eggs.
Should You Store Eggs in the Fridge?
When it comes to storing eggs, practices can vary based on where you live. In many countries, like the United States, eggs are washed before being sold. This process removes a natural protective layer, so these eggs are best kept in the fridge to prevent bacterial growth.
However, in some other countries, eggs aren’t washed before selling. They still have their natural protective coating, which helps to keep bacteria out. In these cases, it’s often considered safe to store eggs outside the fridge.
Should You Wash Eggs Before Cooking?
If eggs still have their natural coating, washing can remove this layer and potentially allow bacteria to enter through the porous shell. So, gently wiping them if they’re dirty is usually a good approach.
In Spain, the practice of washing eggs is not common, as it is in some other countries. Eggs in Spain, like many European countries, are typically sold unwashed. This means they retain their natural protective layer, called the “bloom,” which helps protect the eggs from bacteria.
Due to this, it’s generally safe to store eggs outside of the refrigerator in Spain. This is in contrast to practices in countries like the United States, as we mentioned, where eggs are washed and refrigerated. The key is to keep them in a cool, dry place to maintain their freshness.
As for cleaning, it’s recommended not to wash the eggs for the same reason – to preserve the natural protective layer. If the eggs are visibly dirty, a gentle wipe is usually enough.
These practices are in line with the European Union’s standards on egg handling and safety. It’s always good to follow local guidelines for food safety.
How to Test Eggs
- Egg white consistency: When you crack an egg, a fresh egg will have a thick, slightly opaque white that stays close to the yolk. If the white is very runny and spreads out, it might indicate the egg is older, but not necessarily bad. The thickness of the egg white can decrease as the egg ages.
- Yolk firmness: A fresh egg typically has a yolk that’s round and sits up proudly. If you’re gently passing the yolk from one shell half to the other, a firmer yolk that doesn’t break easily is often a sign of freshness.