The pig’s contribution to the classic breakfast may be a total commitment, but eggs are without doubt an important ingredient in many meals, be they breakfast, lunch, tea or dinner. Whether you scramble them, boil them, poach them, fry them or add them to soufflés, cakes or whatever, eggs are good for you.
Eggs are an excellent source of protein (containing all nine essential amino acids), vitamins and minerals.
Besides the ‘run of the mill’ eggs with which all of us are very familiar, there are other types available.
OMEGA-3 ENHANCED EGGS
Hens fed on a diet that contains between 10 to 20 per cent flaxseed produce these. Flax contains omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, thought to reduce the risk of heart disease. These fats are also present in fish and certain nuts.
Hens producing these eggs are fed on organic grains.
These eggs come from hens fed a diet comprising only plants and are deemed acceptable to vegetarians.
FREE RUN EGGS
These happy hens have the freedom to run about in their barn
FREE RANGE EGGS
The fortunate hens producing these eggs are free to run around, both in the barn and also outdoors.
Unbroken yolks can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days if covered with water and a lid. Drain off the water before using. They can also be frozen – mix ½ tsp salt or sugar with each yolk before freezing and label clearly. Egg whites stored in a covered container will keep in the fridge up to 4 days. The separated whites also freeze well.
The colour of the shell is determined by the breed of hen and has no bearing on the quality of its contents. A diet of wheat-based grain will result in a pale yellow yolk, while a corn or alfalfa-based diet produces a darker yellow yolk. Eggs are sized by weight, so a ‘large’ egg, for example, will tend to weigh between 56 and 63 gm, a ‘jumbo’ in excess of 70 gms and so on.
- There is sometimes a “Best Before” date stamped on the eggs (how do they do that with no breakages), or more sensibly on the carton. This date is an indication of its freshness.
- The most effective way of removing any unwanted yolk from the white is to scoop it up with one half of the shell. Because of the egg white’s texture, using a spoon or any other kitchen utensil will make it almost impossible to separate the bit of yolk from the white
- In a fresh egg, the yolk will typically sit up high and the white will be thick and closely surrounding the yolk. An older egg will have a flatter yolk that breaks easily, and a thin, watery white
- You can tell the difference between a raw egg and a hard-cooked egg by spinning it. A hard cooked egg will spin longer than a raw one
- Any trace of egg yolk will prevent you from whisking egg whites successfully
To separate the yolk from the albumen, the easiest way is to break the egg and, with the yolk in the one half of the shell, allow the white to spill over the edge of the shell into a container
- When beating egg white, ensure that the bowl is completely grease-free and thoroughly dry, otherwise the egg white will not thicken
- Use egg white at room temperature before whisking – remove from refrigerator up to 30 minutes before you intend using them
- Do not leave whisked egg white standing for too long else it will discolour
- Eggs should be refrigerated until used and may be stored for up to 1 month in the refrigerator
- Store in the egg-carton in which you buy them; using the refrigerator’s egg rack exposes them to contaminating smells
- Do not wash eggs as this makes the shell more permeable to odours
When combining beaten egg whites with yolks or any other ingredients, fold gently to retain the pockets of air
- Hard boiled eggs can be kept in the refrigerator for up to one week
If an egg is accidentally dropped on the floor, sprinkle it heavily with salt to ease cleaning up
- It is sometimes difficult to remove the shell from very fresh eggs that have been hard-boiled. Eggs that are not as fresh are generally easier to peel when hard-boiled.
- There is no difference in egg quality between brown and white-shelled eggs. The colour is based on the breed of hen and nutrients.
- Small spots of blood (sometimes called “meat” spots) are sometimes found in an egg yolk. This is caused by a blood vessel having burst on the yolk surface during formation of the egg. As an egg ages, water is transferred to the yolk from the egg white, reducing the size of the blood spot. So, a blood spot actually indicates a fresh egg that is edible, rather than one that should be disposed of. If you are squeamish about consuming the spot, remove it with the tip of a knife
- Unless otherwise specified, most recipes assume the use of large eggs. The general rule of thumb is that one large egg equates to 4 tablespoons or 50 ml
Separating the yolk from the egg white –