In the last 6 months there are now 4 places selling eggs. FREE RANGE EGGS say the signs. I am a city slicker what do i need to know about store eggs vs road side farm eggs?
Any feedback is greatly appreciated. No I am not going to start keepingchickens, I don't think I can in the city let alone having too much room for chickens....
Depending on what state you are in, to legally sell eggs from the farm they have to have an egg handling license. That way the eggs are treated just the same as they would be at a regular grocery store. That said, my friend has an egg handling license, so I'm rather familiar with the requirements that she has to meet and there is no guarantee that the eggs are any safer than commercial eggs. They do not inspect the living area of the chickens. The only things it requires is that the eggs be sized, graded (based on air pocket size) and the date of packing (not the date laid) is on the box.
That said, a road side farm is much more accessible and if you ask them they may let you go look at their chicken setup and you can ask them questions about what they feed, how they care for the chickens, etc. Generally speaking, pastured chickens are going to be much healthier and produce healthier eggs. The eggs will also be a lot fresher, which makes a world of difference regards to flavor and texture. They are harder to peel when hard boiled, but they are just so creamy and flavorful that it's worth the headache of trying to get the shell off.
Ask the farmer how they recommend you handle their eggs. If they are washed they should go in the fridge, just like regular eggs, but because they are fresher they should have a longer storage life than store-bought eggs which can already be 3+ weeks old by the time you buy them. If they aren't washed you will want to store them on the counter at room temp. This is how we store our eggs and usually they last about 3-4 weeks. There's a good test you can do to determine if an egg is good or bad. Simply place it in a glass of water. If it sinks, it's still good. If it comes up a bit, it should be eaten right away. If it floats, toss it.
Hi Joe!! I'll do my best to give you some answers. :)
I store my eggs in the fridge, but a lot of people store their eggs on the counter. The very nature of eggs is to stay "fresh" for weeks at a time, because "in the wild" only one or two chickens actually sit in a clutch of eggs and try to hatch them. Several chickens will lay eggs in the same nest over a period of days, sometimes weeks. Then a hen will "go broody" and start to sit on the clutch of eggs. The eggs sit in a state of limbo in the clutch until a hen lays on them, and then when her body heat and the humidity from her heat and feathers is present, the eggs all start to develop into chicks at the same time. Chicks on a clutch laid over a period of a week or more will still all hatch within 24 hours of each other. It's this biology that makes it possible for eggs to stay edible and safe to eat even when they have sat out on a counter to be stored. However, most states require that farmers refrigerate their eggs, and if you purchase eggs that have been refrigerated, it's generally accepted that you should keep them stored in the same way. If you purchase eggs that haven't been refrigerated, you can leave them un refrigerated.
Farm Fresh eggs are just that. FRESH. Store bought eggs *in general* can have taken up to two weeks to get to the store. Eggs can be stored for about 30-45 days... so buying them closer to the date they are laid means you can keep them at your house longer.
I did not notice a change in taste when I first started eating my own eggs. When I DO notice a taste difference NOW, is when I eat store bought eggs. They don't taste like anything to me anymore, now that my taste buds have gotten used to the richer flavor of my own eggs. It's not that they taste "different" as much as it's a stronger "egg" flavor.
Depending on the size of the farm the eggs come from, the farmer may or may not need to have a license. Here in Oregon, I am too small to need a license. I'm not sure what horror stories you've heard... I'll assume they are about store bought eggs. ;)
All kidding aside: My motto is "know your farmer" so I highly recommend educating yourself about commercial egg production practices first. I have blogged about what I have learned HERE. Then find yourself a farmer that practices the kind of egg production you are comfortable with. Most small farmers will at least talk to you about how their chickens are raised, and how they live, so you should be able to find something out about the farms the eggs you have access to, and make a pretty educated decision. It's also important to understand that "free range" on a commercial egg label isn't usually what we think it means. You can find more about that HERE.
Joe! We thought your question was such a goodie, we re-posted it on HOMEGROWN's Facebook page and got a few more responses. Here's what folks had to say:
Griner Waters I am not an expert, but.....I rinse eggs from my hens (not wash)....just to clean any matter, but not remove protective enzymes....most commercial eggs have been washed, protective enzymes gone, egg shells are surprisingly porous and allow bacteria in....?.....the farm eggs do not require the refrigeration that the commercial eggs require....way more than not, the commercial eggs are more open to bacteria.....also farm eggs usually have stronger inner shell membrane that also protects against bacteria infiltration, because of what they eat.....will notice if crack open farm egg vs. mass commercial egg - farm eggs have less "water" as whites, richer yolks.....always funny to hear city folk remark with worry that the yolks are so orange and the white is thick....ah, that is a good egg.
Paula Dyer Lorenz They aren't even the same thing. Humanely raised chickens produce terrific eggs. I am not sure what is wrong with store eggs. They look, smell, and taste differently than a backyard egg.
Lucy Owsley-Goodman Pastured eggs from hens fed Organic feed as well as greens, bugs, fruit, etc.. will have a perfect omega 3 to 6 ratio, will have orange yolks, will usually taste stronger. They will store unwashed at room temp (under 75F) for up to 9 months (people who go on long sailing trips will request unrefrigerated eggs because they will store just fine for months). Store bought eggs can be "recycled" 3 times meaning they can be over 90 days old. Farm stand eggs are likely to have fewer pathogens such as salmonella or campybolactor (e-coli is not a factor with poultry) than eggs from a factory farm as pastured hens are a lot healthier because they are outdoors and not crowded into cages or barns. Some people do not like the flavor of pastured eggs.
Laura Dikovsky Smith I grew up on a non-factory egg farm in the 50s & 60s & I agree w/Lucy abt store-bought being up to 3 months old at time of purchase. But I strongly disagree abt being able to keep eggs for 9 months fridge free w/o any prep. Eggs breathe & if nothing else, would completely dry out inside in less than 9 months. This technique is used for the intricately decorated Easter Eggs. If there are any tiny cracks, you could have a real problem on your hands in much less time than 9 months. http://www.offthegridnews.com/.../preserving-eggs-for.../
Awesome. Am looking forward to the eggs most places are not selling right now...cold temps right? slows down egg production. Anyway, I am also going to be doing my first CSA this summer and the farm I have chosen also offers eggs so I am excited about that. Thanks again for all your input folks!