Curling's Crest Farm
Del and Jan Curling, Proprietors
885 Warren Farm Road
Walnut Cove, North Carolina  27052
336/409-4847 (phone)   336/450-1001 (facsimile) (electronic mail)

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General Information About Eggs

If you are accustomed to using store bought eggs, which can be over 30 days old at the time of purchase, you will note some differences with true farm fresh eggs, usually purchased within hours or days of laying. 

The first is shell color—while most commercial production eggs come from White Leghorn chickens, which are white egg layers, most chicken varieties, and particularly most chickens utilized for home flocks, tend to be heartier multi-purpose chickens that are largely brown egg layers.  Curling’s Crest Farm uses a variety of standard and heirloom breeds, including White Rocks, Barred Rocks, Delawares, Wyandottes, Speckled Sussex, and New Hampshire Reds, among others, all of which are hearty brown egg layers.  Shell color has no effect on the internal contents of the egg, but is simply a reflection of the breed of chicken from which the egg came.  Next time you see a live chicken, check out the color of its ear--white egg layers have white ears, whereas the ears of brown egg layers will usually be a shade of red.  In fact, although eggs are usually classified as either "white" or "brown", the color of shells can actually vary quite widely from light brown, to dark brown, to speckled, or even to hues of blue or pink, largely dependent on the breed of chicken, but also upon diet and other factors.

Upon cracking a farm fresh egg, you will notice an immediate difference in the albumen, or white of the egg.  A fresh egg will have a thicker, translucent white that is firm enough to hold up the yoke in the frying pan.  As the egg ages, the albumen starts to thin and become more transparent and runny in the pan.  In a truly fresh egg, you will also note that there are actually two types of white—the thicker white surrounding the yoke and a thinner white around the outside that serves as a barrier between the shell and the main contents of the egg.

Yoke color varies with the diet of the chicken.  Store bought eggs from chickens kept in cages and fed the same bland corn-based feed diet day after day will have consistently uniform yellowish yolks.  Chickens that are allowed to free range to select their own diet of grasses, weeds, berries, nuts, etc. will have varying yolk colors dependent on the specific foods they have chosen to eat.  While free range chickens will most commonly have yolks ranging from yellow, to orange, to red, yolks can potentially take on any color, including green and black, depending on the most recent diet enjoyed by the chicken.

Various aberrancies are sometimes seen in all eggs, including no-yolkers, double yolkers, blood spots, and meat spots—while not necessarily effecting use or taste, these are interesting variables perhaps more often seen in farm fresh eggs, as opposed to the uniformity seen from large commercial producers.

Finally, you will notice a difference in taste—while subtle at first, many people who have come to appreciate the delicious taste of an organically produced farm fresh egg from free range chickens will have trouble reverting back to their commercially produced store bought imitations.  While these fresh eggs can be utilized in many ways, please note that it is often difficult to peel a fresh boiled egg.  As an egg ages, air seeps in through the pores in the shell, creating a space between the white and the shell, which makes it easier to peel.  One of the signs of a fresh egg is that there is no air inside the shell, and therefore no space between the cooked white and the shell, which can make it very difficult to peel the shell without peeling the white.  As such, if you like your eggs boiled, it is best to let them sit out for a couple of days or use some of your older eggs for that purpose, while using your freshest eggs for everything else.  (Note that an egg left out of the frig ages at a rate about equivalent to one left for 7 days in the frig.  This also explains why farm fresh eggs don’t necessarily have to be refrigerated quickly—you could let them set out for a few days, and they’d still be fresher than a typical store bought egg).  As an interesting experiment, and a quick and easy way to check the age of your eggs, simply drop them in a bowl of water.  The freshest eggs will sink to the bottom, while the older eggs (which contain air within the shell) will tend to float or stand up in the water.

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