Whether you're a CSA devotee, a farmers' market weekender or consider ketchup a veg, we'll bring you fresh inspiration for how to prepare our local produce.
This week's harvest: Eggs
Ok, so eggs are "in season" most all of the time -- though production varies throught the year. We might see fewer cartons of eggs in the winter since there's less daylight for them to do their work, but for the most part, we can get free-range/backyard eggs all the time at our Valley farmers' markets. It is thought that free-range eggs taste better than conventional eggs, apparently not so. You buy pastured eggs because it is good for the chicken, not because it tastes "eggier." You might not notice a flavor difference, but you will absolutely be stunned at the deep orange colored yolk vs the bright yellow yolks from conventional eggs. I know you know how to cook an egg, but here are a few preparations that highlight this most versatile ingredient at the market. We love you, egg.
Selecting, storage and preparation tips:
Freshly laid eggs can be kept at room temperature for several weeks. However, once refrigerated, they must continue to stay refrigerated until use. Properly stored, eggs should be consumed within a few weeks.
Is there really no difference in taste between conventional and pasture raised eggs?
Not really. To a regular person, there will be no distinguishing cues - except for visual ones. It is possible, however, to detect flavors based upon the chicken's diet. For example, the omega-3 enriched eggs got that way because the hens were fed omega-rich foods like fish oil, and thus can taste "fishy." Similarly, if the chickens at garlic or citrus, that might be detectable, but chicken feed is usually neutral in flavor and doesn't contain those ingredients.
Why are some eggs white and some brown?
Not only do they come in white or brown but varying shades of white, cream, pale blue, red, pink, green and brown. Usually, the chicken's earlobes will determine which color they will lay, but that's not always the case. Here's a fantastic chart describing the colors, varieties and behaviors of over 60 chicken breeds.
Why can't we eat raw eggs anymore? I watched Rocky Balboa downed dozens in 1976.
There's always been a risk of contracting salmonella poising, and many believe that with the growth of industrialized factory farming, the chances that your egg might contain salmonella is higher.
In fact, "Before World War II, most eggs were produced by small barnyard flocks. The farmer's wife usually supervised the hens and the money received from the sale of the eggs was considered hers--her egg money." So, it makes sense that your grandpa would have had no problem eating raw eggs since it's likely to have come from his own or a nearby backyard chicken.
Alton Brown doesn't fear eating raw eggs, since he knows exactly where his are coming from. However, it is still not recommended to eat raw eggs, according to the FDA - so don't say we didn't tell you so.
This is a great technique to use come greens season.
Crack some eggs on your Friday night Margherita pizza feast. This isn't a link to a recipe, but the blog post of the photographer. Make your pizza, and then after it's just about done crack some eggs on top and watch carefully in the oven until cooked to desired doneness
Brown Butter Pasta with Pine Nuts and Fried Eggs
If this doesn't turn you on, nothing will.
Make a meal extra special with homemade mayo.
Eggs Baked in Cream
Simple, "adorable" and delectable.
Grits Cheese and Onion Souffle
Make a sweet or savory one, here's a nice twist.
Mexican Hot Chocolate Mousse
Make this spicy sweet chocolate with farm-fresh eggs.
Jennifer Woods is a local food advocate with over 10 years working in the AZ food industry, and currently works for Crooked Sky Farms, a CSA produce farm based in South Phoenix.