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Getting back to large eggs


Fat Guy
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For many years I've been purchasing Extra Large or Jumbo eggs. For those of you outside the US, our egg-size gradations are: Jumbo = >2.5 oz. (71g); Extra Large = >2.25 oz. (64g); and Large = >2 oz. (57g). There are some smaller sizes as well but I never see them in grocery stores. Sometimes if you buy eggs from a farm you see Medium, Small and Peewee. But the commercially available selection seems to be Large, Extra Large and Jumbo.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I got some Japanese egg molds. These are plastic molds that you use to make a hard-cooked egg come out in the shape of a bunny, a car, etc. They're for kids' school lunches. And they can't accommodate Extra Large or Jumbo eggs. So I had to buy some Large eggs.

I always check the expiration date on an egg carton, mostly to make sure the carton behind it on the shelf doesn't have a later expiration date (and is therefore fresher). But I rarely cross-check dates against the other sizes. That day I did, because my plan was to buy one carton of Large eggs and one of a larger size. What I noticed was that the exiration date on the Large eggs was 10+ days later than the ones on the larger sizes.

I've checked this every week since and the pattern holds: the Large eggs are significantly fresher (unless I'm missing something about the date regulations).

I guess it's also helpful to use Large eggs because most published recipes assume, or claim to assume, Large eggs.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I wonder if the Large eggs are fresher simply due to higher turnover? I buy only Large size, because US baking recipes are calibrated on Large eggs. I'd imagine that most home bakers do the same. I never buy (ETA extra)-large or jumbo, but I will buy small if making devilled eggs for a party.

Edited by HungryC (log)
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Always use large unless I've been able to swing by the egg farm and grab some smalls for cocktails. Are chickens bred to lay a particular size of egg? I know that, back in the old days, the eggs were smaller, along with most things poultry.

Chris Amirault

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Most of the major supermarkets here in Southern Ontario offer large eggs at a price that they guarantee is equal to or lower than all the other supermarkets. So they are a better buy than larger or smaller eggs. I've switched from extra large to large to take advantage of the significantly lower price. (Sliced white bread, 3 litre bags of milk and salted butter are the other things that all the supermarkets offer at competitive prices.)

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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Always use large unless I've been able to swing by the egg farm and grab some smalls for cocktails. Are chickens bred to lay a particular size of egg? I know that, back in the old days, the eggs were smaller, along with most things poultry.

My father owned an egg farm and the chickens laid eggs in all manner of sizes. The chickens were all the same breed and the eggs they laid were mostly "large" but I did see some impressive "jumbos" and cute pee-wees and sizes in between.

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If I'm buying from a supermarket, I get large eggs, because recipes usually call for large, but if I'm in the Greenmarket, a dozen eggs can vary somewhat from not quite large to jumbo, and the smaller ones are usually sold separately. I'll accept the variation to get farm fresh eggs. If I have both on hand, then I'll usually use the standardized ones for baking and the fresh ones for scrambled eggs, omelets, and such.

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I usually buy eggs at Costco (cheaper, and Costco is only 1/4 mile further than my local supermarket) -- they only carry extra-large. Very high turnover. If I buy eggs at the supermarket, I get large because they are fresher and at a better price point.

Oh, and when my grandmother raised chickens for eggs, there was a size range.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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We buy only large and locally.

Our small local grocery store became part of a chain a few years ago...in order to survive I guess. They were carrying a local farmer's eggs. Then they were told they could no longer carry those eggs but had to switch to the national (or whatever) brand. The clientele raised the roof and the chain headquarters backed down and we still buy Scully's eggs, large, there.

AND there is SUCH a difference between Scully's eggs and all other grocery eggs. They are just as cheap, but I would buy them even if they cost more.

Also, our dogs eat eggs for breakfast every fourth day. :smile:

Darienne

 

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Life in the Meadows and Rivers

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I need to do more research on the whole large-eggs-and-recipes issue. I wonder what the assumptions of professional recipe testers are with respect to utilization of eggs. For example, most people when they crack an egg lose about 1/4 ounce of product because that's what adheres to the shell and most people won't bother to use a finger to get the last bits out. So if a recipe assumes a 2 ounce yield that may be more likely with a 2 1/4 ounce extra large egg than with a 2 ounce large egg (which will typically yield more like 1 3/4 ounces).

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Most recipes seem to tolerate some slop in egg quantities.

If you need to be precise, as always the best bet is measuring weight.

Figure 50g per large egg (18g yolk, 32g white).

I keep whites in the freezer and always measure them into recipes by weight. Yolks I blindly trust.

Notes from the underbelly

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Most recipes seem to tolerate some slop in egg quantities.

If you need to be precise, as always the best bet is measuring weight.

Figure 50g per large egg (18g yolk, 32g white).

I keep whites in the freezer and always measure them into recipes by weight. Yolks I blindly trust.

This is a really good point. Only a few of my cookbooks provide weight measurements but I've found that for those that do, large eggs always seem to come in a little underweight--leaving me to wonder about the best way to adjust--more white, or yolk, or both? For supermarket eggs, extra large seem to work more consistently by weight. Though this business about freshness is troubling. Another reason to buy eggs at the farmers market, though I also agree with earlier posts that sizes can vary dramatically. Oh, if only all recipes used weight measurements...

paulraphael and others, when you freeze egg whites, what's your system? When I have an extra white or two, I never know if that's too few to freeze, how long they last in the freezer, etc.? Can you freeze yolks too?


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This is probably a whole separate topic but I find that with farmers'-market eggs the size variation is one problem but the performance of the eggs is a bigger issue. When making a fried egg or an omelet, it's no big deal, but in baking projects and some standard cooking projects (e.g., making an egg-based sauce) the variance in yolk-white ratio, thickness of yolk and firmness of white make things more difficult than when you use graded, sized, predictable supermarket eggs. A while back, for example, some friends and I got some eggs direct from a farmer. For fried eggs, they were terrific. Not so much for making carbonara.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Could you expand on that carbonara comment? I've been using local farm eggs exclusively for the past 10+ years, and my carbonara (Ruth Reichl's recipe) turns out great every time. The eggs are anywhere from a few days to a month or so old.

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

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I always check the expiration date on an egg carton, mostly to make sure the carton behind it on the shelf doesn't have a later expiration date (and is therefore fresher). But I rarely cross-check dates against the other sizes. That day I did, because my plan was to buy one carton of Large eggs and one of a larger size. What I noticed was that the exiration date on the Large eggs was 10+ days later than the ones on the larger sizes.

I've checked this every week since and the pattern holds: the Large eggs are significantly fresher (unless I'm missing something about the date regulations).

I wonder if the large eggs somehow last longer on the shelf than the extra-large or jumbo? Then they could all be just as fresh. You'd think supermarkets understand customers' buying habits enough so that they carry consistently fresh product on something like eggs.

I've been getting Eggland's best eggs for awhile now. They taste fine and have significantly less cholesterol.

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Could you expand on that carbonara comment?

The eggs just didn't set up and thicken properly.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I wonder if the large eggs somehow last longer on the shelf than the extra-large or jumbo?

I'm pretty sure that's not the case and that the expiration date for all eggs is set by regulation as X number of days from the laying date. There are additional date codes on the cartons we could use to confirm this, but I haven't bothered yet. Maybe I will.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I believe the standard date code for eggs is a number from 1-365, corresponding to the days of the year, indicating the date the eggs were packed. I'm not sure what the time between laying and packing is.

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... when you freeze egg whites, what's your system? When I have an extra white or two, I never know if that's too few to freeze, how long they last in the freezer, etc.? Can you freeze yolks too?

I've read that yolks don't freeze as well, so I haven't tried it. One issue is that they contain fat, so they can rancidify. Not a concern with whites.

I Just freeze them in a ziplock bag. I do it any time I use yolks in a recipe, and keep adding to the same bag. When the bag gets big, or a couple of months old, I'll consider making something like financiers.

A few suggestons:

-double bag them. ziplock bags often leak after being frozen and thawed

-squeeze out all the air before freezing

-write the date on the bag, and don't keep them around for more than a few months. Honestly, I've kept them for longer than this, with no obvious ill effects, but conventional wisdom says not to.

-if you plan to thaw the whites to use a portion of them, and refreeze the rest, be aware of any time spent in the petry dish zone (warmer than 40°F). keep it to a minimum, and if you're not sure, toss.

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

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The best way to use part of an egg in a recipe (assuming that the recpe does not call for separating them) is to beat one egg, use what part of it you need, and refrigerate the reremainder for scrambled eggs within 24 hours or so.

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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I wonder if the large eggs somehow last longer on the shelf than the extra-large or jumbo?

I'm pretty sure that's not the case and that the expiration date for all eggs is set by regulation as X number of days from the laying date. There are additional date codes on the cartons we could use to confirm this, but I haven't bothered yet. Maybe I will.

I'd bet it's because of the higher turnover, as somebody mentioned above.

I use large eggs for everything. I think of them as the 'standard' size. I've been working on a cookbook for the last 6 months and have used at least 100 dozen large eggs, and they've varied in size a bit. I recently pointed out to somebody that it seemed to me that the large eggs aren't as large as they used to be. Having said that, I don't think 1/4 ounce larger or smaller matters much, in a recipe. If you want to be exact, measure, but I don't think it's necessary.

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I use large eggs for everything. I think of them as the 'standard' size. I've been working on a cookbook for the last 6 months and have used at least 100 dozen large eggs, and they've varied in size a bit. I recently pointed out to somebody that it seemed to me that the large eggs aren't as large as they used to be. Having said that, I don't think 1/4 ounce larger or smaller matters much, in a recipe. If you want to be exact, measure, but I don't think it's necessary.

I have Anne Amernick's baking book, The Art of the Dessert, and she suggests weighing eggs to insure a consistent result in the baked product. She writes that it doesn't make much of a difference in some things, but the texture of sponge cakes will be altered with changes in the gram weight of eggs. For me at home, it doesn't matter so much, but I would guess it may be more important to people who sell their baked goods.

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Always use large unless I've been able to swing by the egg farm and grab some smalls for cocktails. Are chickens bred to lay a particular size of egg? I know that, back in the old days, the eggs were smaller, along with most things poultry.

I buy my eggs directly from the farmer and he said that the size of the egg is dependent on the age of the hen. The younger the chicken, the smaller the egg; the older the chicken, the larger.

My suspicion is that the yolk size kind of stays the same regardless of egg size. So for example, you'd get a higher percentage of yolk in a medium over an extra large. I like to make my omelets using medium eggs - they just seem creamier. My thought was that it was the additional yolk.

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It's my understanding the the yolk size does not vary much in the sizing as the amount of white contained in the egg. That is, the yolk would be approximately the same size in a Large egg as an X-Large egg, but the quantity of white would be bigger in the X-L. I would have to double check a reference somewhere to be sure of that. I ran across it when I was checking substitution rates when I was getting mediums from the girls.

I used eggs right out of the nest box for carbonara last week, and the sauce was amazingly perfect - set and consistency. Yum.

Our chickens, all the same breed and about the same age have laid everything from mediums to one X-L that came in last week. They each seem to take a day off once a week or so, and the eggs seem to get slightly smaller towards time to take a break. I think the market for smalls, and probably quite a few mediums, are in the institutional type foods - yer egg mcmuffins and such.

USDA Date Standards

Here's the deal with the dates:

hat does the date on the egg carton mean?

Egg cartons with the USDA grademark must display a “Julian date”*, the date the eggs were packed. Although not required, they may also carry an expiration date beyond which the eggs should not be sold, but are still safe to eat. On cartons with the USDA grademark, this date can not exceed 30 days after the eggs were packed in the carton. Depending on the retailer, the expiration date may be less than 30 days. Eggs packed in cartons without the USDA grademark are governed by the laws of their states.

*Julian date: usually on the short side of the carton, represents the consecutive days of the year with the number 001 as January 1 and December 31 as 365.

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How long are eggs safe to eat after purchase?

Fresh shell eggs can be stored in their cartons in the refrigerator for four to five weeks beyond the carton’s Julian date with minor loss of quality. Once an egg begins to age, it loses moisture through its porous shell and begins to dry. The membranes that hold the egg structure begin to loosen and the yolk may not be anchored in the center of the white once the egg is broken. An older egg would be most appropriate for a mixed dish, a batter or a hard cooked egg which should be easier to peel than a freshly laid egg.

So, you can have a later expiration date, and your eggs could have still been packed two weeks ago.

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I use large eggs for everything. I think of them as the 'standard' size. I've been working on a cookbook for the last 6 months and have used at least 100 dozen large eggs, and they've varied in size a bit. I recently pointed out to somebody that it seemed to me that the large eggs aren't as large as they used to be. Having said that, I don't think 1/4 ounce larger or smaller matters much, in a recipe. If you want to be exact, measure, but I don't think it's necessary.

I have Anne Amernick's baking book, The Art of the Dessert, and she suggests weighing eggs to insure a consistent result in the baked product. She writes that it doesn't make much of a difference in some things, but the texture of sponge cakes will be altered with changes in the gram weight of eggs. For me at home, it doesn't matter so much, but I would guess it may be more important to people who sell their baked goods.

I also question when the "Large" egg became the standard in recipes.

I have found that with some very old recipes (receipts) that use a lot of eggs, the "Large" egg is too large. I have converted some of the recipes I inherited from my great-grandmother and others in the family and it took a fair amount of experimentation. One cake recipe includes 20 eggs (makes a very large cake) and the first time I tried it (cutting the recipe in half) the batter was much too thin and the result unsatisfactory.

After some discussion with my aunt (age 98 at that time) I figured the eggs used were small to medium, estimated the total weight and used that.

The cake turned out as I remembered from my childhood.

In many of the cookbooks I have from the first few decades of the 20th century, I note that many recipes call for what I think are too many eggs. Rather than just accepting the recipe as written, I have learned to start out with fewer eggs, adding them one at a time, and stopping when the batter, or whatever, looks and feels right.

Many of these cookbooks contain many notations about adjustments to the recipes, in case they may fall into other hands that may be, in the future, mystified as to why the recipes do not turn out as expected.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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