By: Jodie Shield, RD
When it comes to buying eggs, it’s not six of one, half dozen of the other. Brown, jumbo, grade A, organic -there are so many factors to consider.As you’re checking out the carton and reading the Nutrition Facts panel, here are few handy definitions to keep in mind.
Fertile eggs have the potential to be incubated and developed into chicks. They’re not any more nutritious than unfertile eggs, they tend to be more expensive to produce, and they don’t keep as well.
Organic eggs come from hens that have been fed ingredients grown without pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, or commercial fertilizers. Eggs laid by organically fed hens are as nutritious as eggs laid by conventionally fed hens. But due to higher production costs, organic eggs cost more.
Free-range eggs are produced by hens that have daily access to the outdoors. (Most hens are raised indoors). While the nutritional composition of the eggs is the same, free-range eggs are usually more expensive.
Brown eggs are equal to white eggs in quality, flavor, and nutritional value. Shell color is determined by the type of hen that laid the egg. Most consumers prefer white eggs, which are laid by White Leghorn hens; but New Englanders prefer brown eggs, which are laid by Rhode Island Red hens.
Grading is not mandatory, but the USDA provides a grading and inspection service for shell eggs that’s based on the eggs interior and exterior quality. Grade AA eggs and Grade A eggs are what you’ll typically find in grocery stores. Grade B eggs are just as wholesome, but the egg yolks have a less attractive appearance. Grade B eggs are usually sold to the retail market or used for egg products. There is not difference in the nutritional value among these eggs.
An egg’s size is determined by a hen’s age, breed and weight. Eggs come in jumbo, extra large, large, medium, small, and peewee sizes. Medium, large, and extra large eggs are the most common. When a recipe calls for an egg, it generally requires a large one. The nutritional makeup of an egg varies with size.
Pasteurized eggs have undergone a process that heats eggs to a bacteria-killing temperature without solidifying the yolk or white.
Egg substitutes are liquid egg products that are designed as substitutes for real eggs. They consist of egg whites and other ingredients like food coloring, vitamins, oil, and milk products. Most egg substitutes are free of fat and cholesterol and all are pasteurized.
One other caveat. To keep eggs fresh after you buy them, store them in their original carton in coldest part of your refrigerator (not in the door). Be sure to use them within five weeks.
So now you know how to buy a good egg. Better get scrambling to the grocery store – Easter is only days away. My next blog will tell you how to boil the perfect egg. Any advanced thoughts on this?