How much do you know about eggs?
Eggs are commonly used around the world as one of the most versatile ingredients for cooking. They are ideal in a variety of recipes as well as on their own, boiled, scrambled, poached, pickled or fried. Here in Kenya, the most common type is the chicken egg. Other edible choices include duck, quail, roe and caviar. Eggs are simple to prepare and contain high amounts of protein, ideal for growing families. Add them to delicious French Bread recipes, or whip up a scrumptious serving of scrambled eggs.
The composition of an egg is usually described as having two basic parts: the white and the yolk. The white is approximately 87% water and 13% protein. It contains both vitamins and minerals.
Labelling terms that appear on egg packaging are among the most confusing and misleading. They include cage free, free range, organic and “kienyeji”, which can be found in Kenya. Whatever name that you see on the packaging, you cannot be 100% sure about what is written on the packaging or how the egg was handled.
When deciding if an egg is fresh before purchasing it, the labelling on the carton cannot help you make a clear decision. An expiration date for the eggs is usually stamped on the side of the carton, often with the abbreviation ""EXP"" (e.g., EXP Jan23). However, this expiration date is calculated from the time of packaging and not from when the egg was laid by the hen. Thirty days is the maximum amount of time allowed between the packing and the expiration date.
Due to these limitations in the grading system and the expiration date assignment for eggs, we recommend that you either talk with your grocer (depending on his or her knowledge) or the farm itself to determine the freshness.
In some situations, there may only be several days between the laying of an egg and its appearance in the grocery store. In other situations, there might be three weeks or more, which will affect the freshness of the egg.
In the case of buying from a supermarket, it becomes a tricky scenario because most often than not there is a large variety on the shelf and there’s no way of finding out if what you bought is good until you crack it open when cooking.
HOW DO YOU TELL IF AN EGG IS OLD?
- Cloudiness of egg whites: The white of a fresh egg is naturally cloudy. As the egg ages, the cloudiness goes and the white becomes more clear.
- Yolk firmness and color: Yolk colour is mostly related to the hen's diet. If the hen eats more pigmented plants like the petals of flowers with orange or yellow pigments, the yolk will typically be darker and richer in shade. In contrast, if the hen eats large amounts of white maize in her feed, the yolk will be less colourful. Over time, the yolk membrane will weaken, and the yolk will become flatter.
- Red blood spots on the yolk: These spots are caused by the breaking of a blood vessel along the surface of the yolk. This type of breakage can occur naturally and is not a sign of contamination.
In summary, inspect any eggs that you purchase for breaks or cracks. And of course, take care when packing them into your shopping bag for the trip home as they are very fragile.