If you buy your eggs from the grocery store, it’s easy to know how fresh they are. It says so right on the carton! But grocery store eggs just aren’t as flavorful as farm-fresh eggs. Whether you get your eggs from the farmers market or are one of the many who are trying out urban chicken coups, these tips will help ensure you have the freshest, most flavorful eggs.
First, let’s be clear about the difference between farm-fresh and store-bought eggs. Farm-fresh eggs are, well, fresh from the farm. You usually have to buy them from a farmers market (though some rural or specialty groceries may carry them, as well). What you’ll usually see in the grocery store are free-range eggs. While that does mean they’ve had a more natural diet than run-of-the-mill eggs, they aren’t necessarily the same as eggs from the farm (to find out, do your homework on the company producing them).
We should also talk a little about color. While white is the predominant color egg found in a supermarket, at a farmers market, you’re likely to find more brown and green-speckled (or even blue and red) ones. The color of the egg shell is determined by the breed of chicken. For the most part, there’s not a real difference in flavor. But there is a difference in the shell. In white eggs, the shell is often a little tougher, making them less preferable for boiling (at least when they’re freshest).
Are Farm-fresh Eggs Really Better?
Well, that really depends on what you’re using them for. Farm-fresh eggs have a richer flavor and a deeper-colored (more orangey) yolk.
If you’re using them for baking, store-bought eggs will probably be just fine, but some cakes and pastries do benefit from the flavor of farm-fresh eggs. If you’re eating them for breakfast, it’s farm-fresh all the way, though.
How Do I Know When Farm-fresh Eggs Are Fresh?
Even if you’re an urban farmer gathering your own, it can be hard to remember when each egg was gathered. All farm-fresh eggs should be washed immediately after collected and refrigerated (though some say it can wait a few days in cooler weather). Do so immediately when you return from the farmers market.
If your egg’s been in the fridge for a while and you need to know its freshness level, follow these steps to find out:
- Fill a clear plastic container with enough cool water to go at least one inch over the top of the eggs.
- Gently drop the egg into the water and let it settle, then observe its floating behavior.
- If it stays on the bottom (mostly on its side) it’s very fresh. These are great for fried or scrambled eggs or quiches.
- If the bottom of the egg touches the bottom of the container, but it tries to stand on end, it’s a few weeks old. This is a great egg for baking and boiling (because the shell will separate from the boiled egg more easily).
- If it floats, it’s gone bad. All you can do is throw it away.
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