WHAT ARE GRAIN-FED CHICKENS?
Originaly used as a value added marketing ploy, "Grain Fed" is supposed to mean that the chickens that produced the eggs were fed on a diet consisting exclusively of a mixture of various grains and pulses. Between the lines one should read that no protein from animal origin were added to their diet. Although free roaming chickens will add worms, insects etc. to their diet, to do so on a commercial scale will be impossible, except if fishmeal and/or other similar sources of animal protein are added to the diet. These are in any case too expensive so, in practice all eggs that you will buy are probably "grain fed". Why " supposed to"? Because of the lack of protein from animal origin in the diet, some amino acids like Lycine & Methionine need to be added to the diet. Other additives include a wide range of vitamins and trace elements. And you thought only humans need extra vitamins!
IS IT DONE YET?
Scrambled eggs, omelettes and frittatas: Cook until the eggs are thickened and no visible liquid egg remains. Fried eggs: To cook both sides and increase the temperature the eggs reach, cook slowly and either baste
the eggs, cover the pan with a lid or turn the eggs. Cook until the whites are completely set and yolks begin to thicken but are not hard. Soft-cooked eggs: Bring eggs and water to a full, rolling boil. Turn off the heat, cover the pan and let the eggs sit in the hot water about 4 to 5 minutes. Poached eggs: Cook in gently simmering water until the whites are completely set and the yolks begin to thicken but are not hard, about
3 to 5 minutes. Avoid precooking and reheating. Baked goods, hard-cooked eggs: These will easily reach internal temperatures of more than 70℃ when they are done. Note, though, that while Salmonella are destroyed when hard-cooked eggs are properly prepared, hard-cooked eggs can spoil more quickly than raw eggs. After cooking, cool hard-cooked eggs quickly under running cold water or in ice water. Avoid allowing eggs to stand in stagnant water. Refrigerate hard-cooked eggs in their shells promptly after cooling and use them within 1 week.
IS IT RAW OR COOKED?
If you hold up two eggs and one is hard-boiled and the other is raw, you might wonder how to know which is which. A simple test will reveal the answer. Spin them carefully on a countertop. The hard-boiled one spins and the raw one doesn't. this is because the hard-boiled egg is solid so everything spins in one direction, while the inside of the raw egg sloshes in different directions and therefore doesn't allow it to spin. Try it and see for yourself.
ALL THIS IN A SINGLE SHELL?
Eggs are highest quality protein and are often used as a standard to measure protein in other foods. They also contain Vitamins A, D, E, K and the B-complex and a variety of minerals, particularly iron. Plus, eggs contain the ideal balance of the essential amino acids the body can't manufacture. Because eggs are very easy to digest, they are frequently included in therapeutic diets. Eggs provide protein, vitamin A, riboflavin and other vitamins and minerals. The yolk contains all the fat, saturated fat and cholesterol in an egg. In 1 large egg, the yolk contains 5 grams total fat, 2 grams saturated fatty acids, 213 milligrams cholesterol, and 60 calories. The egg white contains 15 calories. Eggs make a valuable contribution to a healthy, balanced diet. Eggs are nutritious, tasty, versatile and convenient. Eggs are an excellent source of high-quality protein and are far less expensive than most other animal-protein foods. Eggs also provide significant amounts of several vitamins and minerals. Although eggs contain a significant amount of cholesterol, they need not be excluded from the diet. Most people need not be concerned about eating eggs in moderation.
WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF YOLK COLOUR?
The colour of the yolk is influenced by substances called carotenoids. The nutritional value and the taste of the egg is not affected by the yolk colour, although a deeper yellow/orange might seem to do just that! The intensity of yolk colour may be measured against standards, like the Roche Scale (Pictured above), and eggs produced by hens fed on a diet of the normally used natural grains/pulses as used in SA would invariably result in a scale measurement of 6-8. The most important sources of carotenoids in poultry feed are yellow maize (corn), maize gluten, alfalfa (lucerne) and grass meals. In South Africa, Yellow maize is the primary energy source for all types of chicken feed and it is rarely required to add pigments. When yellow maize is replaced with, for instance, white maize as an energy source in the feed, it is necessary to add some natural colorants like caretinoids obtained from marigold petals/ carrots etc, to ensure that an acceptable yolk colour is achieved. Misuse of colorants leads to "orange" yolks and this effect is sometimes abused to create a "Natural/Free Range/Organic" feeling. This does not mean that all orange coloured yolks are manipulated, but an "orangy" yolk is no guarantee that the eggs were produced in a more natural/organic way than other eggs.
WHY DO EGG SHELL COLOURS DIFFER?
The colour of an eggs shell is genetically determined by the breed of chicken that lay the eggs. It has no direct bearing on the shell and internal quality of the egg. Technically it is determined by the amount of porphyrines (normal degradation product of red blood cells) that is embedded in the shell during formation. Why do some people prefer a certain shell colour? It boils down to what you are used to use. A white shelled egg looks very "different" to a person used to brown shelled eggs and vice versa. Historically, white shelled eggs where easier to candle(checked over a light source-originally a candle) to establish whether meat/bloodspots might be present in the egg, without destructing the egg. That lead to the belief that white shelled eggs are less prone to have pieces of blood/meat included in them. Nowadays production and quality control methods have evolved to the point where no difference in occurrence are found.
HOW MUCH DOES AN EGG WEIGH?
Chicken eggs weigh between 33 and 75 grams when laid, of which 90% is edible and the rest is the shell.
Eggs may loose moisture when not stored correctly. Every country has it's own standards and regulations how eggs are sized and packed, and in south Africa these things are regulated by the agricultural product standards act, as amended from time to time: Jumbo eggs weigh more that 66grams X-large eggs weigh more than 59grams Large eggs weigh more than 51grams Medium eggs weigh more than 43 grams Small eggs weigh more than 33 grams
BLOOD & MEAT SPOTS?
Occasionally found on an egg yolk. Contrary to popular opinion, these tiny spots do not indicate a fertilized egg. Rather, they are caused by the rupture of a blood vessel on the yolk surface during formation of the egg or by a similar accident in the wall of the oviduct. Less than 1% of all eggs produced have blood spots. As an egg ages, the yolk takes up water from the albumen to dilute the blood spot so, in actuality, a blood spot indicates that the egg is fresh. Both chemically and nutritionally, these eggs are fit to eat. The spot can be removed by the tip of a knife, if you wish.
GENERAL TIPS & INFO
Eggs should preferably be stored in a fridge below 5℃ with their sharp points downwards. Do not freeze. Store shell eggs in their case. Store away from foods with strong odours (foods such as fish, apples, cabbage or onions). The reach room temperature they should be removed from the fridge about 20 minutes before use of placed in warm water for ten minutes. Left-over egg white can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to ten days. Left-over egg yolk can be kept in the fridge for 3 days if covered with a little bit of water, milk or oil. Cream can be increased by adding stiffly whipped egg white. The cream and egg white should be whipped separately an then together. Controlling crystallisation: The addition of egg white when making sweets controls crystallization. Adding colour and flavour: The egg yolk gives cakes a very attractive colour. Garnishing: Hard-boiled eggs are a winner when garnishing savouries. Ideal for any meal Eggs are ideal for any meal whether it be breakfast, lunch, dinner or late night snacks. Use only clean, un-cracked eggs. Eggs should not be washed before using; they are washed and sanitized before they are packed. Use clean, sanitized utensils and equipment. Never leave egg or egg-containing dishes at room temperature more than one hour (including preparation and service).
THE ISSUE OF CULLING & SPENT HENS
What is culling? It is the practice of removing ineffective animals from a flock, for instance day old layer breed male chickens (can't lay eggs, ever..) or older hens that does not produce economically any more (the feed that is consumed is too expensive for the eggs produced). It is not limited to the poultry industry. Why is culling done? Culling is done to produce food as affordable as possible by using resources (grains etc) as effective as possible. Removing the individual animals that does not produce cost effective ensures that the average effectiveness of the whole flock is increased. What is a s "Spent Hen"? It is an egg laying chicken which has gone through a laying cycle or two and need to be replaced by a young pullet ( a hen at the age where it would start laying eggs). What happens to "Spent Hens"? In the majority of developed nations it would go to processed pet food. At the age of roughly 80 weeks it is not acceptable to the palate of the consumer ("Meat chickens" are slaughtered at about 5-6 weeks of age, in comparison). In South Africa spent hens are sold to people that have a palate for the older chickens. It also appeals to consumers that does not have fridges and still want to have a fresh product to eat, as it can be slaughtered at the point of use . How do spent hens get to the consumer? Culls, or spent hens, are in every way a producing bird which needs to be replaced in the flock as explained above. The culls are normally transported to a sales outlet where hawkers and other individuals buy the culls, either for further distribution to smaller outlets or to be used as food. This process requires extensive handling of the birds and care needs to be taken to ensure that no damage (like broken wings etc) is done to the bird. What is the role of the SPCA in this regard? The SPCA want to ensure that the birds are treated humanely and always have access to food and water. We absolutely support their endeavors.