Nutrition NotesEggs are an excellent source of high quality protein plus they provide many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12, riboflavin, vitamin D, folate and iron. Eggs do contain cholesterol (about 200 mg per large egg), present only in the yolk. However, recent research has found that our total and saturated fat intake has a greater impact on blood cholesterol levels than dietary cholesterol. Eggs can be part of a low-fat, healthy diet.
Most of the eggs we eat today are hen's eggs. They come with white or brown shells. Duck, goose or quail eggs may be available at some gourmet food shops or from local farmers. There are some other breeds of chicken such as the Araucana, whose eggs are blue or greenish in hue. Exotic eggs such as ostrich and emu can also be found at local breeders.
Omega-3 enriched eggs are produced by altering the feed given to the laying hens. Hens are fed a special diet that contains 10-20% ground flaxseed, which is higher in omega-3 fatty acids and lower in saturated fatty acids than other grains. The total fat content and the cholesterol level of omega-3 eggs are almost the same as regular eggs. Omega-3 eggs are about twice the price of regular eggs.
Liquid egg product
You may also find liquid egg products on the shelves that aren't egg substitutes. These are just eggs without the shell. It is ready to use in a convenient liquid format and can easily be frozen. Great for baking and quick scrambled eggs and omelets, although they may not taste quite the same as fresh eggs.
Eggs with extra nutrients
Eggs with extra nutrients such as vitamins E and B12, as well as folate are showing up on store shelves. Burnbrae Farms recently introduced their Naturegg VitaPlus variety. By altering the hen's feed, processors can change the nutrient profile of the egg. Apparently, VitaPlus eggs have 8 more times Vitamin E, 3 times more Vitamin B12 and 3 times more Folic Acid than regular eggs. While not necessary, these eggs wouldn't be harmful - but you'll probably pay a premium for them.
Egg substitutes, such as Egg Beaters, are made with egg whites so they contain no fat or cholesterol. They have the same amount of protein as regular eggs. Manufacturers add some vitamins, minerals, coloring and natural flavoring so that it looks and tastes as similar as possible to whole egg. As they are pasteurized, you don't have to worry about the risk of salmonella poisoning. But they will taste a little different.
Egg substitutes were created in the 1970's in response to the "cholesterol" scare. Today, we know that these products aren't necessary. However, they may still be useful for those who want to cut back on fat and who don't mind paying the added cost for convenience.You'll find egg substitutes in the dairy case near the whole eggs or in the frozen food section.
Note: There is a recipe for making your own Natural Egg Substitute on the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency's website.
All of the eggs you will find in the super market are Grade A (see below). Eggs are also sorted by size and are packed as Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large or Jumbo. Most recipes call for large eggs.
Check eggs carefully before buying. Open the carton and look for cracks, breaks or dirt. Make sure none of the eggs have cracked on the bottom - they will be stuck to the carton. Check the Best Before or Expiry date to make sure they are fresh. Take eggs home immediately and refrigerate.
When buying eggs from a local farmer be sure you know what you are getting. Don't buy them if the shells are dirty. Take eggs home immediately and refrigerate.
Grade A: Sold at retail markets for consumer use.
- Firm white
- Round, well centred yolk
- Small air cell (less than 5 mm deep)
- Clean, uncracked shell with normal shape
- Yolk is slightly flattened
- Watery white
- Shell uncracked but rough texture
- Yolk is loose
- White is thin and watery
- Shell may be cracked
Eggs must always be refrigerated - in the store and at home. Eggs should be stored in their cartons in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Taking them out and putting them in the egg container in the refrigerator door exposes them to odors and damage. The carton also protects them from aromas of strong-flavored foods such as onions. Eggs can absorb odors right through their porous shells. Store large-end up - the yolk remains centered in the white, away from the air pocket at the large end of the egg.
Hard-boiled eggs can be refrigerated up to one week. Store them in a carton or covered container, as cooking washes the protective coating from the shells. If you are using them within a day or so, shell hard-cooked eggs and place them in a bowl with cold water to cover them.
Eggs can be frozen but not in the shell. Beat whites and yolks together just until blended. Then place in small containers and seal tightly. To freeze whites alone, separate them, then place in containers and seal. Yolks alone will need to be combined with salt, sugar or corn syrup in order to be usable when thawed. For every four yolks, beat in 1/8 teaspoon of salt or 1-1/2 teaspoons of sugar or corn syrup. Seal in containers and make sure you've labeled them. Thaw frozen eggs overnight in the refrigerator. Cook them thoroughly or use them in recipes as soon as they are thawed.
Everyone has a favorite way to cook their eggs. The information listed below outlines basic techniques. They are meant to be general guidelines only.
Separating: It is easier to separate eggs when they are cold. For beginner's, it can be easier to use an egg separator, a small tool available at cookware stores. For experienced cooks, rap the egg sharply downwards on the edge of a bowl at the egg's mid- or beltline. As the two pieces of shell are gently pulled apart and then held upright, the yolk will be left in one of the halves. Then you can either tip the yolk from one shell half into the other to remove the excess white. Or carefully place the yolk in your flattened palm and let the excess white drain out between your slightly opened fingers.
Beating: Beat egg whites just before you need them, not in advance. Use a large, deep bowl that is very clean and free of grease. Begin beating with a whisk, an eggbeater, or an electric mixer at slow speed. Once the eggs are foamy, gradually increase the speed and beat until the whites are firm but not dry. For soft peaks, the tips of the peaks should curl over as you lift the beater from the bowl. For dry peaks, the tips of the peaks should neither fold over nor break as you lift the beater.
When a recipe calls for sugar to be added to the egg whites, add it very gradually, or it may decrease the volume of the beaten egg whites. To help stabilize beaten egg whites, acidic ingredients such as lemon juice or cream of tartar, may be added. Add these once the egg whites have been beaten to the foamy stage, not before.
Frying: Use the steam-baste method for frying eggs with minimal added fat. Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray (or brush lightly with oil or butter), heat over medium-high heat and then crack egg into pan. Reduce heat to low and cook for about one minute. Add 1 teaspoon of water, cover tightly and cook for at least six minutes longer.
Poaching: The easiest way to poach eggs is to use metal egg poaching cups. Crack one egg into each cup and place in a shallow skillet or saucepan filled with 1 to 2 inches of boiling water. Eggs are done when the white is firm but not rubbery. Without the egg poaching cups, bring 1 to 2 inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan or small skillet. Break an egg into a cup or mug, then, holding it just above the surface of the water, gently slide the egg into the pan. Cook until the white and yolk are firm - at least five minutes. Lift the egg out with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Egg poachers are also available in the small appliance section of hardware, cookware and department stores.
Scrambling: Scrambling can be done with whole eggs, whites only or with one whole egg plus one or two whites. Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk them with a fork until blended. You can add a few spoonfuls of milk or other seasoning if desired. Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray or brush it with a little oil or butter. Heat over medium heat. Pour in the eggs. As they begin to set, gently stir or draw a spatula across the pan to break the eggs into little chunks. Cook until there is no liquid egg visible.
Soft and hard cooking: Place eggs in a saucepan and add just enough cold water to cover them. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. As soon as the water comes to a boil, turn off the heat and let the eggs stand in the water for at least 7 minutes for soft cooked and 17 minutes for hard cooked.
There are egg dishes for every taste, meal, occasion and level of cooking expertise. Classic egg dishes include: Shirred eggs, fried eggs, sunny-side-up eggs, egg custard, egg cream, Eggs Benedict, egg nog, cheese omelet, Spanish omelet (onion, red pepper, garlic, tomato), Quiche Lorraine, Scotch eggs, créme caramel, Caesar salad dressing, egg drop soup, egg foo yung, Huevos Rancheros (fried eggs with beans and salsa), Crépes Suzette, pickled eggs, pastry cream ...
Rocky may have eaten them raw but it's really not a very good idea. Even though today's processing standards are high, raw eggs carry the risk of salmonella contamination. Recipes made with raw eggs, such as Caesar salad dressing or eggnog should be consumed with caution and avoided altogether by children, pregnant women and the elderly.
Healthy Ways to Eat Eggs:
- Scrambled eggs in the microwave served with whole-wheat toast and fruit juice is a quick and easy start to the morning.
- Use up leftovers like vegetables, chicken, ham, cheese in omelets, quiche and frittatas.
- Lazy Sunday mornings are perfect for soft-boiled eggs with whole-wheat toast for dipping into the yolks.
- Make-ahead breakfast casseroles or stratas, made with eggs are great for brunches, holidays and special occasions.
- Whip up a batch of French toast for a weekend treat.
- Devilled eggs are a classic for luncheons and summer parties. Update them by adding chunk crabmeat.
- Fill whole-wheat pitas with egg salad, lettuce and sliced tomatoes.
- Crack an egg into rapidly boiling chicken or other brothy soups.
- Fill a soft tortilla with scrambled eggs made with your favorite vegetables.
- Have a hard-boiled egg ready for a mid-afternoon snack at your desk.
- Make yourself a Croque-Monsieur for a warm, hearty lunch. (Layer ham and Swiss cheese on French bread. Dip the sandwich in beaten egg. Cook in a nonstick skillet until the egg is cooked and the sandwich is warm and golden.)
- Serve a spinach or mushroom soufflé for elegant entertaining.
- Individual ramekins of créme caramel or créme brûlée make a smooth and luscious dessert.
- Dress up quiche with shrimp, crabmeat, asparagus and a little bit of asiago cheese
- Angel food cake, made with beaten egg whites, is a low-fat dessert choice. Top with fresh fruit and some plain yogurt.
- Chocolate meringue cookies help quell the chocolate craving without a any fat.
- Keep hard-boiled eggs on hand for quick peel-and-eat snacks.
- American Egg Board - www.aeb.org
- California Egg Commission - www.egg.com
- Canadian Egg Marketing Agency - www.canadaegg.ca or www.eggs.ca
- Egg Beaters - www.eggbeaters.com
- Ontario Egg Producers - www.eggsite.com
- Holiday Eggs by Georgeanne Brennan, Smithmark, 1999.
Did you know?
- An egg loses a tiny fraction of its weight every day by evaporation of water through the porous shell.
- You can substitute two egg whites for one whole egg for up to half the eggs in scrambled eggs and omelets.
- If you drop an egg on the floor, sprinkle it heavily with salt for easier clean-up.
- Brown eggs are just the same as white eggs. The color of the shell, or the yolk, has no bearing on the egg's quality or nutritional value.