An egg’s an egg’s an egg – right?
Not so much.
For those of us who grew up in suburbia and only a faint notion that chickens and eggs were somehow associated – there’s quite a bit to learn.
First – those fresh eggs you buy in the grocery store? They’ve been around for a while. I’ve got a friend who is in the chicken business – supplying eggs and meat birds to big name conglomerates. Typically – those fresh eggs in the grocery store are at least four weeks old.
Second – those fresh eggs that you buy in the grocery store may well say “cage free” or “free range” on them – that the hen that laid those eggs – on a more probable than not basis – has likely never seen the light of day. Not only that, but because of the confined housing – these hens are likely on antibiotics from the time they are hatched through the course of their lives. Pastured eggs is what you want, folks! The hens that are pastured eat grass, bugs, get lots of sunshine, and good exercise. Those are healthy hens! No need for antibiotics! MUCH better for you.
Third – Part of what happens during the course of the weeks that an egg might be “in transit” from the hen to the grocery store, is that the rich, fresh flavor of the egg fades away to blandness. That’s the flavor that most of us grew up thinking an egg tastes like. Wrong. A fresh egg tastes – and looks – nothing like a typical grocery store egg. The egg of a pastured hen will have a bright yellow – well, really orange – yolk. The egg white will be quite firm.
Fourth – Fresh pastured eggs that have been hard boiled are a) very difficult to peel (a fresh egg is a hard to peel egg) and b) very strong in flavor.
In light of these revelations, here are some helpful tidbits!
Hard boiled eggs: If the flavor of the fresh pastured hard boiled egg is too intense for you, set some eggs aside in the refrigerator to age a week or two. They will be much more bland and much easier to peel.
For any hard boiled eggs – a great way to make peeling easier: Fill a pan with cold water – so that the eggs you are boiling are covered by at least an inch of water. Set the pan on the eye of your stove. Add 1 Tablespoon of salt and 1 Tablespoon of Baking Soda to the water. Bring the water to a boil. When at a full, rolling boil, turn the heat off, put the lid on the pan, and set a timer for 11 minutes. (If the eggs are on the small size, adjust the time to 10 minutes.) When the 11 minutes are up, drain the hot water off of the eggs.
- If you are going to peel these eggs right away, bounce the eggs in the pan so that they crack. If you have an abundant supply of ice on hand, cover the eggs with ice and alow to set for 15 to 20 minutes before peeling. If you don’t have an abundant supply of ice on hand, then let cold water run over them until they have cooled down sufficiently to handle. Peel and enjoy!
- If you are not going to peel these eggs right away, simply cover them in ice and allow to set for 15 to 20 minutes. When they are cool enough to handle, transfer to an egg holder and store in the refrigerator until the time that they will be used.
Scrambled eggs: If you’re going to make scrambled eggs with your fresh pastured eggs, because the albumin (the white) of the egg is so thick, it’s a good idea to crack the eggs into a bowl or glass measuring cup and allow them to sit for 5 or 10 minutes before mixing them up. Once the time has passed and you’ve mixed them, allow them to sit for another 5 or 10 minutes, mix one more time, and then cook away!
And here are some answers to Frequently Asked Questions that we hear – well – frequently!
Q. Do you have to have a rooster to get eggs?
A. Nope. Much like a human woman – a female chicken is born with a set number of eggs, said eggs will release on schedule until that supply is exhausted. A rooster is only needed if fertilization is required.
Q. How often does a chicken lay an egg?
A. A typical, good/consistent layer will lay an egg approximately every 25 to 26 hours.
Q. Is there anything that causes egg production to go up or down?
A. Having enough light is essential to egg formation and production. If a hen doesn’t get enough light (like during the winter months) then she will lay less frequently. A hen needs approximately 16 hours of light a day in order to maintain a consistent laying schedule.
Some things that cause the hens at our place to have slowed production include…
…neighbor dog attack
…thunder and lightening
And – each hen goes through a “molt” usually toward the end of the summer and toward the early fall. During molting egg production ceases.
Another time that a hen ceases egg production is when she goes “broody” – i.e., decides she wants to be a Mommy. When a hen goes broody we decide (based on the chicken census, time of year, etc.) if we’ll purchase fertilized eggs from a reputable source or not. If the hen sets on fertilized eggs, she will do so for 21 days – at which time the chicks will hatch (assuming they are viable). She will then spend another 4 to 6 weeks raising those chicks, at the conclusion of which she may or may not molt. If she doesn’t molt, she will likely ease back into egg production. If she does molt – she can be out of egg production for as long as another several months! A hen that does not set fertilized eggs will assume that any nest she sets on will eventually give her babies to raise. Sometimes that means she’ll set on that nest for 5 to 8 weeks – during which time she will not be in egg production. When she’s over being broody, she will ease back into egg production once again.
Q. Do the different colored eggs come from different breeds of chickens?
A. Yes, they do. We have brown egg layers – ranging from a slightly blushed beige to a very deep chocolate brown; white egg layers; and tinted egg layers – ours lay various shades of green eggs.
Q. What breeds of chickens do you have?
A. We have 15 different breeds currently, they are:
Ameracauna (also known as Easter Eggers)
Golden Sex Link
Rhode Island Reds
Silver Laced Wyandotte
Have a question? Leave a comment below and we’ll add it to the FAQ’s 🙂