Tag Archives: eggs

How to buy the best tasting eggs!

best tasting eggs

Let’s decode the myths and labels around this favorite dairy product.

Eggs are the most complete food – nutritious, affordable and can be served in more ways than you can imagine. Personally, I could eat them for any meal – they’re one of my favorite foods. And, they’re really a staple in almost every household – used in everything from meal entrées, to salads, to baking and of course all by themselves as a perfect snack.

As easy as they are to use and as important as they are for daily meal planning, there are so many myths and labels to decode. Figuring it all out can make finding the best tasting eggs a bit confusing.

First, let’s dispel one bit of egg mythology. The color of the shell means nothing. The color of the shell, although pretty, is just an indication of different breeds. They merely produce different color eggs. The difference in taste is from the care and diet of the chicken and the freshness of the egg. More on that in a moment.

Next, the ‘size’ of the egg marked on the carton has nothing to do with a visual scale. The most common size you will find at the market is classified as “large” and it’s the most common size called for in recipes. But here’s the thing. The size is actually a measurement of the WEIGHT of a dozen eggs in a carton. So, one “large” egg weighs about 2 ounces, and a dozen will weigh about 24 ounces.

Now we have grading. Eggs are also graded based on the appearance of the shell and what they can see of the egg’s interior. In this case, you’ll usually see eggs in most stores that have a USDA “Grade” of “A” and “AA.” Graded eggs will have thick and firm whites, yolks that are high, round and free of defects, and clean unbroken shells. There’s practically no big difference between “A” and “AA” except that with “Grade A” eggs, USDA only requires that the whites need to be “reasonably” firm. After that, they’re all just eggs.

Finally, shopping for eggs. Remember that the freshest egg is the tastiest. For the best tasting eggs, I see my “egg guy” at my local farmer’s market. His eggs are usually laid about 2 days before selling which is about as fresh as you can get unless you live next to a chicken ranch or raise chickens yourself. The fresher the egg the better tasting it will be.

When I buy eggs at the store, I pay close attention to the “sell by” date (sometimes they’re marked “use by” or “best by,”). Of course, you want the date that is the farthest out. By law the “sell by” date is no more than one month from when the eggs were packed and the “use by” or “best by” is actually no more than 45 days from the pack date.  I also look for ‘Certified Organic’ on the carton. That’s a legal trademark regulated by the USDA. It means hens are uncaged with access to the outdoors and are fed an organic diet free of antibiotics and pesticides. But “cage-free” only means the hens aren’t kept in cages. They could still live in VERY cramped conditions. “Free-range” means they have access to the outdoors and can pretty much wander around the yard where they’re kept. If you find the carton stamped “Certified Humane or Animal Welfare Approved,” (also perhaps marked as Pastured) then you’ve found the gold standard for probably the next best tasting eggs you can buy in a regular market.  These eggs come from chickens that basically live outdoors roaming with a varied diet.

One last bit of egg mythology: pasteurization. It has no effect on taste, and if you’re planning to cook the egg well, then don’t worry about. Pasteurized eggs are lightly heated in their shells. They add just enough heat for a certain amount of time to kill off bacteria but not enough to actually start the cooking process. You want these eggs if you have a recipe that calls for uncooked or only partially cooked eggs. Some sauces are like that, toppings whipped with cream etc. As far as taste, I can’t tell the difference between the best organic, range-free eggs and pasteurized.

Check out my video where you’ll see the eggs and labels for yourself. See this earlier video on how to tell if those eggs you’ve kept in your fridge are still fresh enough to eat or should be tossed.

Recipe for the Perfect Poached Egg

the Perfect Poached Egg

The mystery of poaching eggs is lifted.

I love poached eggs. My mom and dad used to have them with toast just about every Sunday morning. It’s a fond food memory for me.

I think more people would eat them at home were it not for all the mystery of how to actually make a perfect poached egg (and that most people think it’s almost impossible!). Ask a dozen people and you will get a dozen answers. The problem is a lot of people are just guessing and the reality is, there’s no real “recipe” for the perfect poached egg. It’s like boiling potatoes – you either do it this way or that.

I found this idea from Epicurious.com. They call it their “foolproof” method, and I have to agree. It’s so simple and works every time. Check my video to see how easy this is.

  1. First step, pour water into a large wide pan. Add salt to the water. I use Kosher salt because it’s not as salty tasting as table salt and it helps the white of the egg set a bit firmer.
  2. Heat up the pan of water—bring it to the point where there are small bubbles on the bottom of the pan. You want it not quite simmering – definitely not with any water movement. If the water is moving, the turbulence in the pan will throw wispy whites everywhere and, I don’t know about you but, I don’t want that.
  3. Hold a fine mesh spider (sieve) over a bowl and crack an egg into the spider. Tip- the fresher the egg the better it will hold together.  Let the looser part of the whites drain off. This will remove most of those unwanted wispy whites that you can get when you poach the other way (e.g., drop the egg into a pan of near boiling water). Scrape the bottom of the spider on the edge of the bowl to remove as much of the loose whites as possible.
  4. Gently lower the spider into the pan of water until the entire egg is submerged, but keep the egg on the spider.
  5. Set your timer to 3 ½ minutes. This will give you a perfectly runny yolk with whites that are tender soft, but firmly set. A little tip: as the whites start to set, gently scrape the white toward the yolk with a spoon to keep the egg loose so that it doesn’t stick to the spider.
  6. At about the 1 minute mark when you can really see that the white is setting up, GENTLY slide the egg off the spider so that it is fully immersed into your hot but not bubbling water. Gently move the egg around a couple of times with a slotted spoon as it cooks so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. If the water is hot enough, it shouldn’t stick, but sometimes it does.
  7. When the timer goes off, lift your poached egg out of the pan with your slotted spoon and let the water drain away. If you want your egg to be free of water, carefully and briefly place it on a paper towel before serving. You’ll want it fairly dry it if you plan to serve your poached egg over toast.

A few serving tips. For one or two servings, take your dried/drained egg and place it on a SLIGHTLY oiled plate and hold it there to wait for another egg before moving it to a serving plate or toast.  Cooking for a crowd? Take your cooked egg straight from the pan and place immediately into a bowl with iced water (an ice bath) to hold until you’ve cooked all the eggs you need. You can keep cooked poached eggs in the ice water in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

To reheat your refrigerated eggs later, simply put hot tap water (as hot as your tap gets) into a bowl, transfer the eggs from the ice water into the hot tap water and let them sit for about 2 minutes.  They won’t cook more and will be warm for serving.

And now, you can enjoy perfectly poached eggs any time!

Fresh Eggs!

Egg test

An easy test to make sure that your eggs are fresh and safe to eat.

Eggs are a staple – fried or poached for breakfast, boiled for salads, brilliant as an omelet for a late supper or as an important ingredient in all sorts of recipes. You really don’t want to run out of them.

As we all know, eggs won’t last forever, even in a good refrigerator. Pay attention to those “sell by” dates and rotate eggs (as you would milk) making sure that you use the oldest stock first. But, does that mean you have to be a “date hound” for those expiration or “use by” dates? Short answer is “no.” A friend of mine complained a few days ago that his wife literally pounces on any eggs that remain in a carton after the expiration date – bam, into the trash. Completely unnecessary and overly cautious.

The fact is, assuming they are in constant refrigeration, raw eggs are usually safe for about three weeks after the “sell by” date has passed.

Look it up on Google, and you’ll see that this is a pretty common factoid.

But you still need to be careful – a bad egg is a terrible thing to crack open in your kitchen (it’s a smell that you never forget).

The first test is a visual inspection of the egg. Look for cracks or discoloration of the shell. The egg may even start to give off a certain odor – stronger than normal egg-smell. These are all nature’s signs that you really need to part with that egg.

Still not sure? Here’s a method I learned from my mom. Get a tall pitcher or other container and fill it half-way with cold water. Carefully place each egg into the water. If the egg drops to the bottom of the container – it’s good to eat.  If it lays on its side it’s even more fresh than if it stands on one end on the bottom but either way – they’re both good to eat.

If it floats – the egg is well past its prime. This is the clearest sign that you have a problem. Why does it float? Newly laid eggs have either no air cell or a very small one.  As they begin to cool (just laid eggs are about 105 degrees F!) the contents of the egg contract more than the shell so the inner membrane separates from the hard shell and forms the air cell.  As the egg ages moisture escapes through the shell and air replaces it so the air cell becomes larger.  The bigger the air cell, the more it floats.  So, if your egg is floating on the surface the air cell is big enough to make it buoyant.  Throw the egg away, you definitely don’t want to eat it.

Cool little trick, isn’t it?

Hard Boiled Eggs Aren’t Hard

Perfect Boiled Eggs – way easier than you think!

Author: Tips used by Russ Parsons, LA Times

I was out to dinner last night with some girlfriends and for some reason, the conversation turned to how hard it is to cook and peel the perfect hard boiled egg. I have no idea where or why this discussion started. We were at an Indian restaurant, but everyone was complaining that it’s impossible to cook them perfectly and then there’s the peeling!

I have always hated them – they were very often dry, chalky, had a weird taste, green yolks… I love egg salad sandwiches and eggs in my salads, just not plain hard-boiled eggs. I, however, discovered the perfect “recipe” this spring when I needed a dozen perfectly cooked hard-boiled eggs for Passover at my house. I started where everyone starts when they are trying to find an answer- Google. What I found was that there are several, including Martha Stewart, similar recipes and videos on this very same subject.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one with the issue – who knew. After trying this, I’m here to report that they were the BEST hard-boiled eggs I have ever eaten! The whites were actually white and shiny, the yolk was the brightest and creamiest yellow, they were absolutely not dry, chalky or any other complaint I’ve always had. In one word – they were PERFECT. Now I can have my favorite egg salad sandwiches anytime! Who knows, I might bring a couple of simple hard-boiled eggs for lunch now that I know they will be perfect every time.

Ingredients

Eggs, Water, and Fire!

Instructions

  1. They all start the same way – with old eggs (not really old but definitely not fresh) buy them a week before you need them and keep them in the refrigerator. Everyone agrees “old” eggs are easier to peel.
  2. Place the cold, old eggs in a single layer in a saucepan and cover with cold water – about 1”.
  3. Turn the heat to high and bring to a roiling boil.
  4. Boil them for 1 minute.
  5. Turn the heat off.
  6. Cover and leave the pan on the stove.
  7. That’s it!

There are several different opinions on how long to actually leave them cooling, with several recipes giving you exact times. I chose the one from the Los Angeles Times that said that they would be perfect with 15 minutes of “rest” or cooling time, but that they could be left for an hour and they wouldn’t ever turn into my childhood hard-boiled egg nightmares! This was for me, as I was in the middle of cooking a big family dinner and was NOT going to be watching the clock that closely just for some eggs – wasn’t going to happen. I actually left mine for over 20 minutes. Everyone has an opinion on how to peel them now that they were cooked but the common thread is to start at the fat end as that’s where the air pocket is. Lightly crack them at that point and start to peel carefully with the side of your thumb. Running water helps.