Thursday, 3 February 2011

Farm eggs

by Francesca

farm eggs 2

We buy our eggs from our farmer neighbors, who keep laying hens in a large chicken coop by the side of our house. These eggs are so fresh that they're often still warm when we get them. Each egg is different in color, texture and size, depending on the age of the hens, their diet, and the time of year. Young hens lay smaller eggs. Sometimes our neighbor warns us to handle them with extra care because the shell is thin and frail, and he'll need to add some calcium to the chicken's forage.

farm eggs 3

These eggs are never clean, but our neighbors have taught us not to wash them before storing them. In fact, eggshells (when they're intact, and come from healthy animals living in sanitary conditions) are coated on the outside with a cuticle, a protein-like covering, which helps protect the contents of the shell from dehydration, and from bacterial infection through the shell's pores. Washing eggs removes this cuticle, which makes it easier for bacteria to enter the egg.


Eggs must be refrigerated. In wintertime, we store our eggs in a basket hanging in an unheated part of the house (centuries-old stone houses are refrigerator-cold in the winter!), but in the summer we keep them in the fridge, stored in a sealed container to avoid possible contamination.

farm eggs 3

Just before we use our eggs, we wash them carefully. Health experts advise to use eggs within two weeks of the time they were laid, and to cook them thoroughly (and not to eat them raw).

Further reading on egg facts and safety here, here and here.

Please don't forget to add the name of your favorite seed company in your country to the list of international seed catalogs here!


Sense of Home said...

Excellent advice. I love the photo of egg with a feather on it, beautiful!


denise said...

For most of the year we buy fresh eggs from one of two friends farms. They are unwashed, and sometimes when we pickup the boys can go out and gather what is needed. I love the color of 'real' eggs fresh from the farm. And the taste is so much better than the store bought (even organic/free range). My boys love all the colors - blue, green, white, beige, speckled reddish brown. So beautiful! We sometimes can get duck eggs too...yum!

Your photos are lovely

louisa @ TheReallyGoodLife said...

We've got our own girls - seven of them, although only five are laying at the moment - and we get four or five eggs a day (five today, hurrah!). I love collecting them when they're warm. We don't have a huge spread of colours at the moment - mostly mid-brown but one darker one and we'll have a white one soon - but they vary in size quite a lot.

We give away a dozen or so a week at the moment and always make sure to give away the cleanest ones because I worry people will freak out if they see the dirt on them -- it means our stash is usually especially dirty but it doesn't bother us. As you say, washing before use is best.

We never refrigerate our eggs these days - they'd take up too much room and it doesn't get very hot here (north UK) anyway. They're fine all year around tucked in a cool pantry.

Urban Girl said...

I've heard that in New Zealand (and possibly elsewhere?) the eggs are put on shelves in the grocery stores and are not refrigerated. So I've started doing the same and they last for weeks. More investigating on my end needed regarding the best temperature to store eggs at but washing them is a really good tip (eps. since I am now getting farm fresh eggs myself!)

Suzanne wtih Laughing Wallet said...

One of my neighbors recently brought us a few eggs from their chickens, and I was delighted that one of them was blue! Very good to know about not washing them until you're ready to use them.

mainely stitching said...

Thanks for a beautifully written post, and for mentioning the beneficial coating on eggs - I sell mine at a local farmer's market and people want them already washed, which I hate to do, but very few people understand why.

Kristina Strain said...

Lovely! We recently inherited a young who gifted us with her first egg just last week. I wrote about the experience here.

Anonymous said...

we refrigerate our eggs, but i know from experience that you don't have to - in Tanzania, we had a small kerosene fridge @ the time & could not afford the space - we kept our eggs on the counter & they were fine.