Now that our Wilson County Food Group order is placed, let’s talk eggs. When buying farm fresh eggs, there tend to be two types available: GMO/Soy Free Eggs and Free Range Eggs. When it comes to the egg industry, my understanding is that the terms “free range” and “pastured” aren’t regulated. For our purposes, free range or pastured means that the chickens aren’t stuck in a cage all day like their factory egg counterparts. These hens get to leave their coop most days and forage for bugs, flowers, grasses, and pretty much anything that moves and is smaller than they are. Yesterday, while watching my own personal flock out the kitchen window, I saw one of the hens catch a grass snake. Apparently “grass snake” must be a chicken delicacy because all her henny friends now wanted the snake, too. She ran as fast as her little chicken legs would carry her, trying to put enough distance between her and her counterparts. Watching 11 hens run around my backyard fighting over a grass snake was a pretty silly sight to see.
What is the difference between GMO/Soy Free eggs? Both types are a great choice if you want to buy better tasting, nutritious eggs for your family. The primary difference between the two types is what they are being fed. Pastured or Free Range Chickens eat the regular or conventional chicken feed that can be found in your local feed store. Chickens that lay GMO and Soy Free eggs are fed GMO and Soy Free Coyote Creek Organic Feed. There are other organic feeds available on the market, but they won’t be soy free.
Have you noticed that the Free Range and GMO/Soy Free eggs that you buy come to you unwashed? Did you know that in Europe it is illegal to wash eggs before selling them? A Forbes Magazine article states that “EU egg marketing laws, on the other hand, state that Class A eggs – those found on supermarkets shelves, must not be washed, or cleaned in any way.” That’s seems crazy counter-intuitive, right? I mean, who wants to buy an unwashed egg??? In a phone interview, Mark Williams, Chief Executive, British Egg Industry Council, explains it to the Forbes magazine author this way, “In Europe, the understanding is that this mandate actually encourages good husbandry on farms. It’s in the farmers’ best interests then to produce to cleanest eggs possible, as no one is going to buy their eggs if they’re dirty.”
Washing eggs is pretty simple. To clean your eggs, hold the egg under running water that is warmer than the actual egg. If the water is colder, it can cause the contents inside the warmer egg to contract, forming a vacuum that will theoretically pull in any of the invisible contaminants that you are trying to wash off. You don’t want that. If there is any stubborn bedding or chicken manure on your eggs, holding it under running water for a few moments should fix the problem. Do not submerge eggs. And there is no need to add cleaners or soaps. When we first started buying unwashed eggs last year, I made the mistake of soaking our eggs in a soapy water to wash them. Rookie mistake.
Did you know that you don’t have to refrigerate unwashed eggs? This is because when a hen lays an egg, it is covered with bloom. The bloom protects the potentially developing chick embryo from outside pathogens. While most of the eggs we buy don’t have developing chicks in them, the bloom still protects them from being contaminated by bacteria. Unwashed eggs can be stored on the counter for up to 2 weeks. Unwashed eggs stored in the refrigerator are good for up to 3 months. If an egg has an obvious dirty spot that you feel compelled to wash before storing in the fridge, make sure and use that egg first the next time you are cooking. Washed eggs will last up to two months in the fridge, but won’t taste as fresh as their unwashed counterparts. Personally speaking, I store all my eggs in the refrigerator and wash just before I use them. If an egg occasionally gets left on the counter overnight, I don’t worry about it.