Nosing around in blogs and forums today, I came across an interesting piece about eggs. Eggs are funny. In Europe, they do not refrigerate them. In the US, it is recommended that they do get refrigerated. That I knew, but how necessary is it. I think the bottom line about eggs is that s long s you keep them in a cool dry place and at a constant temperature, they will last. That article said that refrigerated eggs will last three to four weeks. I agree, but as I go through about three dozen eggs a week, I’ve never had the opportunity to test it.
I grew up on a dairy farm, and once we sold that when I was three years old, we moved to a country home. It had a shed. I also had an older sister. She was in 4-H. 4-H was a country thing – a club that boys and girls could join to enhance or increase their skills in home life, gardening, cooking or animals. The four H’s stood for Head, Heart, Hands, and Health. My sister took on animals, I went to cooking. Her animals consisted of thirty baby chicks that grew into hens. The roosters were culled out at infancy by the seller. Agway comes to mind. The roosters went on to be oven stuffer roasters in another venue. Jenny, my sister, was into it for the eggs.
I think I was about seven at the time we had those birds. I learned a few things about them. They are not cuddly beings. If a bird is on a nest at egg gathering time, you may get pecked. I cracked and broke a lot of eggs trying to get one out from under an old biddy. It was a peck and jerk reflex. They are also stupid. I bring the food and water and they never seemed grateful about that. You can see that these birds did become part of my responsibility, too. That’s how it is in family life.
If you’ve read my article on ‘Amateur in the Kitchen’, you will know that I started cooking at an early age. Seven, actually, with a mishap in making whoopee pies. So, with this early start in baking, I got used to really fresh eggs. I have a few things to impart to you about them.
According to the article, I mentioned earlier, eggs will last for three to four weeks. Then, if they smell bad, well, they are bad and throw them out. I think that was kind of obvious. But after years of chickens and eggs, knowing which one to use for fried eggs and which to use in baked goods is handy. A really fresh egg has a white that is cloudy. As it ages, the white clears. A really fresh yolk is deep yellow and sometimes more orange than yellow. When popped into a hot skillet for fried eggs, that yolk will stand up with a well-rounded dome. A yolk that lays down flat in the pan has aged. Each egg when laid has an air sack at the pointed end of the egg. As the egg ages, the air sack becomes larger. It becomes so large that the egg will float in a glass of water. Yes. This does affect the taste of that breakfast egg. No. It is fine for baking. I make a lot of deviled eggs. An air sack that is large will change the shape of that deviled egg and make presentation awkward.
If you want to smell your egg to see if it is bad, do so cautiously. A bad egg will reek of sulfur dioxide. Think catalytic converter odor, or someone with really bad gas. It is unmistakable. You do not have to stick your nose into the dish to get a whiff. You’ll know immediately.
I had real experience with bad eggs. A childhood friend’s grandparents owned a chicken and egg ranch next door. When they retired and sent the last of the chickens to market, the barn was left empty for several months. This friend and I explored the ranch and came upon several eggs that were never gathered. It was August and it was a hot one. We gathered those eggs, hid behind a huge oak tree and threw eggs at passing cars. We were caught of course and punished accordingly. But the smell of those rotten eggs permeated the neighborhood for a long time.
Megan Howe has had her nose in the oven for over sixty years. She currently helps run a website Bakeware Sets [http://www.bakewaresetsplus.com].
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