Eggs

Eggs

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Overview

When we think of “eggs” in the context of food, most of us think of unfertilized hen eggs. In other words, chicken eggs.

Eggs are a staple food in North America and around the world. In the US and Canada they are often considered a breakfast food, though they have their place in lunch and dinner too, and are frequently used in baking.

During spring, eggs are commonly eaten in Easter celebrations as they symbolize life. They’re also a baking staple during Passover as they help baked goods rise without flour.

Eggs are considered one of the world’s most versatile foods, and they pack a lot of nutrition in their small shells.

Identification

Chicken eggs have an oval shape and a crisp outer shell, which is firm but easily cracked. The shell is usually brown or white in color.

There is no flavor or nutritional difference between brown eggs or white eggs: this is simply a reflection of the color and breed of the chicken that laid the eggs.

The two main components of the egg are:

  • The albumen, also known as the white, which is clear with a yellowish tint.  Once cooked, it becomes white and opaque. The albumen is largely made up of water, protein, and minerals.
  • The yolk, which is usually round, bright yellow or orange. The yolk is the egg’s greatest source of vitamins and minerals. Yolks may vary in color – as with the shell, this is a reflection of the feed the chicken ate, and not an indicator of freshness or nutritional makeup.

Nutrition Info

One large, whole, raw egg typically contains 72 calories, 6.4g of protein, 4.8g of fat, 0.4g of carbohydrates, 0.0g of fiber, and 0.2g of sugar.

An egg is also a good source of iron, folate, vitamins A, E, D and B12, and selenium, which, when paired with vitamin E, functions as an antioxidant.

Not surprisingly, different types of eggs contain different nutrients. For example, duck eggs have a higher protein content than chicken eggs.

Note: The issue of egg whites vs. whole eggs deserves some attention. Some people avoid eating egg yolks because of their high cholesterol content. But the latest research shows that the cholesterol in eggs is not associated with cholesterol problems or heart disease. In fact, the yolk is packed with nutrients, energy, and healthy fats. So go ahead, eat the egg white and the yolk.

Selection

Eggs are usually found in the refrigerated dairy case of your grocery store. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Size. Sizes for eggs generally range from small to jumbo. Size “large” is standard; if you plan on using eggs in other recipes, especially for baking, this is the size you should select.
  • Color. You may see a choice between brown or white eggs. As mentioned, this has no bearing on nutrition or flavor, and is simply personal preference.
  • Grade. Eggs are graded – but usually all you’ll see are “Grade A” eggs. This means government standards for the eggs have been met, which refers to how they look and their overall quality.
  • Quantity. You usually have the option of buying a half dozen or a whole dozen eggs per carton. Only select a full dozen if you plan on using all the eggs before their expiry date.
  • Farm & feed. These days, different egg brands advertise details about how the chickens were raised (e.g. free range; nest laid) and what they ate (e.g. omega 3’s). Your best bet is to educate yourself on the options before you shop.

Even better: if you are lucky enough to have access to a farmers’ market or a farm where eggs are sold, you can get them fresh. You may discover eggs with better flavor this way.

Tip: When selecting eggs, carefully hold the carton, lift the lid, and gently touch each egg, moving each one slightly to ensure none are broken or stuck to the bottom of the carton. If any eggs are stuck or broken, select another carton. But don’t worry if there are any bits of feathers or dirt on the egg – that is normal, particularly if you are buying eggs fresh from the farm.

Storage

Keep eggs in the fridge, in the carton they came in. Eggshells are actually very porous and can absorb other odors from your fridge, so keeping them in their carton helps ensure fresh flavor. Plus, the carton helps eggs sit upright and keep the yolk in place.

Use your eggs before the expiry date printed on the egg carton.

If you are separating yolks or whites (as sometimes required in baking), keep any leftover yolks or whites in a sealed container in the fridge and use within 2 to 4 days.

Hard cooked eggs can be kept for up to a week in the fridge.

Preparation

Cracking an egg

To crack an egg, take the egg in one hand and hit it swiftly against a flat surface. Then, over a small bowl, use your thumbs to separate the egg where it cracked, and tip the egg into the bowl while still holding the shell firmly.

Once cracked you can use the egg however you choose: eggs can be scrambled, fried, poached, baked, or used in other dishes.

If a small piece of shell falls into the bowl, use one of the big shell pieces like a scoop: tip it into the bowl, draw it towards the broken bit, and scoop out the bit of shell. This will work much better than a spoon or other utensil as the shell naturally cuts through the white.

Egg safety

When preparing eggs, be aware of how thoroughly you wish to cook your eggs.

Cooking times for eggs depends on the dish as well as personal preference: many people enjoy a runny yolk, but there is a degree of risk to undercooked eggs. While salmonella is rare in eggs, people at risk (including pregnant women) should not consume eggs that are raw or undercooked.

Baking with eggs

Eggs are a baking staple. If baking with eggs, be sure to use them at room temperature. Take them out of your refrigerator ahead of time so they warm up to room temperature. This will improve how they react in your baked good and help produce a better, more consistent product.

How to hard-cook an egg

A hard-cooked egg is a great, versatile preparation which can be used in egg-salad sandwiches, devilled eggs, or grated over salads.

Note: sometimes this preparation is called “Hard-boiled” but boiling the eggs produces a tasteless, slightly chewy, sometimes greyish result. A better plan is to cook the eggs as follows:

Place the egg in a pot, then cover with cold water by about 1 inch. Set the pot on the stove and set to medium-high heat. Watch the pot carefully: once the water reaches a strong simmer, turn the heat off and cover the pot. Set the timer immediately for 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare an ice-bath: put a few ice cubes and some cold water into a bowl. Using a slotted spoon, remove the egg from the pot and place it in the water bath until cool. At this point you can keep the egg in the fridge or you can peel it right away: just keep in mind that the colder the egg, the easier it is to peel. Sometimes peeling the egg under cold running water can help a stubborn shell to come loose.

Recipe: Egg Stuffed Potato

Eggs

These egg stuffed potatoes add some flair to plain potatoes and are absolutely delicious. Enjoy them as a snack or a meal!

Ingredients

baking potatoes
2 large
salsa
1/2 cup
eggs
4
grated cheese (optional)
1/2 cup
salt & pepper
to taste

Directions

Prep Time: 25 minutes   Cook Time: 85 minutes   Yield: 4 potato halves

Wash the potatoes well. Pierce them with a fork and wrap them in tin foil. Bake the potatoes in preheated 400F oven for 50-60 minutes or until very soft when poked with fork. Once done, remove the potatoes from the oven, remove the tin foil, and let cool for about 10 minutes.

Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in half lengthwise. Scoop out the flesh leaving about ⅓ inch of flesh and skin. Place the flesh into a bowl. Add salsa (and cheese if desired) to the bowl and stir until well combined.

Place the potato shells on a baking tray lined with tin foil or parchment paper. Fill the potato with the salsa + potato mixture. Press the filling down firmly and create a small divot in the center. Crack an egg over the divot.

Bake the potatoes in 400F oven for 20-25 minutes or until the eggs have set. Depending on your preference, you can wait until both the white and yellow of the egg are fully cooked, or remove the potato from the oven before the yellow is fully set.

Remove from oven and add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Store leftovers in fridge.

Enjoy!

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At a Glance

Chicken eggs are are considered one of the world’s most versatile foods. They are also packed with nutritional goodness. A single egg contains about 6.5g of protein, plus minerals like iron and folate, and a healthy dose of vitamins A, E, D, and B12. Eggs can be eaten by themselves (fried, hard-cooked, or poached), or used in all kinds of cooking or baking. Before purchasing eggs, check the expiry date and gently move each egg in the carton to ensure there are no cracks. Always store eggs in the refrigerator.