Egg 101: All You Need To Know About Eggs
May 1, 2020
The color of the egg shell can range from white to brown to olive green. The difference lies in the breed of the hen. And funnily enough, you can determine what color a hen’s eggs will be by the color of her earlobe (where exactly a hen’s earlobe is beats me). Nutritional content is the same, regardless of shell color.
The color of the yolk is determined by the hen’s diet. The rule of thumb here is the darker the yolk, the more likely that the hen was free-range. Darker yolks are attributed to diets higher in green plants and deeply-pigmented plants materials, easily accessible by free-range chickens. Lighter yolks are a result of a diet high in wheat, barley, and corn meal.
WHAT DO THE GRADES OF EGGS MEAN?
Grading of eggs is voluntary and is conducted by the USDA. The grade of an egg characterizes the quality of both the exterior and interior.
- AA Eggs: Have a small air pocket with a white that stands well around the yolk
- A Eggs: May have a larger air pocket and a thinner egg white
- B Eggs: The air pocket may be large with possible staining on the shell
WHAT DO EGG LABELS MEAN?
You may see a variety of different labels slapped onto your carton of eggs. Here’s what they all mean!
- Cage-Free: Hens are not confined to a cage; however, they may not be running happily around a field. Cage-free can constitute a wide array of chicken environments, from cramped in a warehouse to wandering around outside.
- Free-Range: Hens are free to roam outside for at least part of the day.
- Natural: The term “natural” is not regulated so this could mean anything the manufacturer wants it to mean.
- Organic: The term “organic”, unlike “natural”, is mandated. Certified organic hens are fed organic vegetarian diets free from genetically-modified foods or foods produced with pesticides. The hens do not receive antibiotics or vaccines, and are often also cage-free.
- Pasteurized: Pasteurized eggs have been heated in their shells to 140 degrees F for 3.5 minutes. This kills many of the bacteria, namely Salmonella, making this a good option for those with weakened immune systems.
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