Eggs are the perfect solution to a delicious breakfast or ideal as a paired-down meal at dinner time. Though we don't normally think of eggs all that much, they add variety and flavor to many types of dishes and are chock full of nutrition. As important as eggs are in our lives, they also hold some pretty amazing qualities that also make them truly unique. Whichever way you choose to have your eggs and whenever you choose to eat them, here are some pretty nifty egg facts to sink your teeth into.
Eggs are incredibly healthy and are a perfectly well-balanced food that contains a plethora of vitamins and minerals, such as calcium. Also known as "nature's vitamin", eggs are also so well-balanced that they help nourish impoverished segments around the world because they are rich in all the essential amino acids, carotenoids, as well as vitamins A, B, and D, which help contribute to longevity, vitality, and stamina. Not only are eggs a widely popular food staple, they are also relatively low in calories at just 70 calories per pop and contain other essential elements, such as protein and healthy fats, which help increase and maintain muscle tone and improves cognitive function.
The rise in the popularity of eggs has seen some steady growth throughout the year. Just in 2018 alone, so far the average American person consumes about 278.9 eggs per capita, which amounts to about to about 5 eggs per day. With the variety of ways that one can actually prepare eggs, from scrambled to hard-boiled, it's virtually impossible to get bored with them. Also, depending on where you come from, each state has their own way of cooking this dairy wonder. But if you want to know the true secret of the perfect egg, free-range is best, as they pack the best quality ingredients and taste, according to research.
The amount of eggs, as well as their color, depends on the breed of the hen that lays the egg. However, a chicken's reproductive cycle only lasts for about 24 hours and can only lay a steady supply for up to one or two years before they are considered "spent". When a hen releases an ovary, the amount of sunlight it gets is important. The longer the sunlight that is available, the odds are greater that a hen will release an egg. Some breeds, such as ISA brown chickens can lay an egg per day for a year and makes a great production breed, creating up to 350 eggs per year, while other types of chickens, such types such as the Sultan, are more ornamental, and only output about 1 egg per year, making it a poor choice for egg production.
Although brown eggs are typically viewed as more healthy, there is no difference between then and the white variety. Brown eggs also tend to be a little more expensive, but this has nothing to do with health. In fact, brown eggs are pricier because the breeds of chickens that lay them are larger than those that lay white eggs, and because bigger breeds require more feed and upkeep, farmers typically have to spend more on them and when pricing their eggs, they compensate for their production costs, so it's not a matter of brown being healthier, like one would apply to rice or bread, but a matter the size of the chicken and maintaining their well-being.
Often times "cage-free" implies that chickens are free to roam and feed off the plants and insects of the land, which is most often the case. However, this isn't always what is occurring when you purchase eggs that proclaim to be cage-free. In fact, cage-free only means that hens have at least 120 square inches per bird, which is twice the size of the conventional square footage a hen is allowed in a coup. Either way, hens are still allowed to roam around outside for the most part but live indoors either in large barns or cages. At any rate, it is still important to consume cage-free whenever possible to prevent Salmonella poisoning and other diseases, apart from the frustration that chickens can experience when in confined spaces.
Egg yolk colors can range from pale yellow to deep orange, which directly correlates to a hen's diet. Hens that are fed corn mashes of yellow corn, alfalfa, and leafy greens typically product a yellow to orange yolk, while those fed grains normally produce paler yellow yolks. Sometimes yolk may even almost come out colorless. Because free-range hens are enabled to eat grass, insects and other wildlife from the natural earth, these hens will typically cultivate deeper colored egg yolks. Conventionally raised chickens, or those that are caged, will often produce lighter colored yolk due to the limited feed that is around them.
Despite popular belief, chickens do have ears and the color of a chicken's earlobes can predict the outcome of the color of the egg. Although they do not stick out on the side of the head like a human, most chickens can hear and can easily communicate with one another. On that note, chickens with white earlobes will lay white eggs, while those with red earlobes will commonly lay brown eggs. However, the color of a chicken's ears will have no effect on the color of their feathers and since a chicken's feathers can have many different variations in color, it isn't a good way to determine the color of the egg. Although the color of the ears correlates to the color of the egg, there will also be different variations on that color. Therefore a white-eared chicken will produce white or slightly tinted eggs, while a red-eared hen will produce eggs that are varying shades of brown.
Eggs come in three grades, A, AA, and B. You will likely never see grade B eggs sold in stores because the consistency is relatively thin with flat yolks, with occasional blood spots. However, they are often used in commercial liquid and powdered egg products. Grade A eggs, on the other hand, are middle of the road and still offer some quality, such as reasonably firm whites, with high yolks that are free from defects, but if you really want to get more bang for your buck, go for AA, the best quality you can find, with thick and round yolks, firm egg whites and clean unbroken shells. AA-grade is also the best type to use for poaching your eggs.
Eggs are incredible and edible but it's nice to know what really makes them so irresistible. Eggs are as diverse as your imagination will allow them to be, so try them in a variety of ways and within your favorite meals for added flavor.