Part II: how to REALLY tell if eggs are fresh

After I published this post, I was fortunate to have a farmer point out a few things and make a few corrections. So I decided to republish this with the corrections, because they are important and pretty interesting!

If you ever manage to find a farm that you like... you will be amazed to see that the eggs that you get from them have really hard shells. You really have to bang them to break them, it's pretty cool. That is because the eggs are being laid by younger hens. As the hen ages the calcium in her bones is depleted, as it is used to make the shell. By the time a hen a 18 months old, the shells are thinner, even if the hen is given calcium supplementation.

When you manage to break that egg, you can see that the color is not pale yellow, but a strong, darker, almost orangy yellow. The color shows that the eggs are from chickens that really do roam around (instead of pacing around in a little fenced-in area called "free-range" for regulatory purposes) and are getting veggies in their diet.

You will also notice that the yolk is firm and stands up high, not runny. That firmness shows that the eggs are fresh. You can see the "strings" that attach the yolk to the whites and hold the yolk in place. The older the egg, the less you can see that "string" or line... another sign of freshness is that the whites stand up high. Eggs have 2 kinds of whites: the first one is immediately around the yolk, and the second is around the first white. An older egg's whites will both run. A fresh egg's first white will stand up, while the second white will run. Leave an egg outside of refrigeration, and it's like you put 7 days age on the egg.

So... when you are working with a farmer and buying their eggs, it is important to find out how often the farmer collects the eggs (daily is best); what the farmer does with the eggs after collection (refrigerate right away is best); and how many day's eggs the farmer has at any one time. It's a good sign if the farmer can't hold on to his eggs for more than a week; that indicates freshness and good repeat business!

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