To put it simply: there is nothing like an egg! Eggs are surrounded by more myths and old wives' tales than any other everyday food. Here are some of our useful and surprising facts about eggs.
Opportunities, like eggs, come one at a time.
- The entire yolk is actually only one cell, one of nature’s largest. In fact, an ostrich egg, which can serve about 24 for breakfast, is probably the largest cell nature is currently manufacturing.
- The color of the shell is strictly a function of the breed of the bird.
- Americans consume an average of 281 eggs per year, which keeps about 285 million hens busy day and night.
- An old fashioned, but valid test for egg freshness is accomplished by gently dropping a whole uncooked egg into a salt solution (two tablespoons salt in two cups of water.) If very fresh, the egg will be full and heavy and it will sink and tip to one side. If moderately fresh, it will remain suspended in the middle of the water in an upright position; if it bobs up to the top, it is stale.
- Government grades are based on the size of the air cell in the egg, the egg’s quality, and its freshness.
- A Grade AA egg must be less than ten days old from packing, a Grade A, 30 days.
- The whitish, twisted material seen near the raw egg yolk is thick albumen, which is part of a layer of dense egg white surrounding the entire yolk. Its purpose is to help keep the yolk centered in the egg. The albumen is especially prominent in fresh, high-quality eggs.
- The color of the yolk is determined by the feed. If the chicken eats grass, yellow corn, or other feedstuffs rich in yellow pigments the yolk will be deep yellow in direct relation to the amount of yellow in the feed regardless of the breed of chicken of color of the shell.
- The incubation period of a chicken egg is 21 days.
- Shortly after an egg is laid, it is placed in front of a light source that reveals the condition of the innards. This process, called candling, can detect cracks in the shell or harmless but unappetizing blood spots on the yolk. It also reveals the size of the egg's air cell: the smaller the cell, the better the egg.
- Old wives' tales suggest that the shape of an egg indicates the sex of the chick that will hatch from it. Unfortunately, there is no truth to this myth. Scientists are unable to distinguish between the sexes before the eggs hatch.
- The greenish gray color around the yolk of a hard-boiled egg is a harmless compound of iron and sulfur called ferrous sulfide, which forms when an egg is heated. To prevent its formation, boil the egg only as long as is necessary to set the yolk, and then plunge it into cold water and peel it promptly.
Did you know? While brown, white, and green eggs are essentially the same in nutritional value, there are definite preferences by individuals and by people in different regions of the country. Do you have a preference? Let us know!