Intriguing Egg Facts and Folklore

Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Eggs

Eggs in Carton
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To put it simply: There is nothing quite like an egg! Eggs are surrounded by more myths and old wives’ tales than any other everyday food. Here are some surprising facts about eggs.

Intriguing Egg Facts

Opportunities, like eggs, come one at a time.

  • The entire yolk of an egg 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 manufactures (currently, that is).
  • The color of the shell is strictly a function of the breed of the bird. You can (usually) tell what color egg a chicken will lay by looking at the color of her earlobe. Hens with white ears produce white eggs, hens with red ears produce brown eggs, and hens with bluish-green ears produce bluish-green eggs! Find out more about different chicken breeds and the eggs they produce.
  • Americans consume an average of 281 eggs per year, which keeps about 285 million hens busy day and night. If you’d like to keep your own hens busy, check out our Raising Chickens blog.
  • 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. Learn how to do this test and see other egg tips in this video.
  • According to folklore, you can stand a raw egg on end on the spring equinox (or fall equinox). Let us know if it works for you!
  • 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 or 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.

Learn even more about eggs and eggshells and their various uses here

Do you have your own backyard chickens? Here’s how to collect, store, or hatch eggs

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 in comments! 

Reader Comments

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Brooklyn Chickens

Back in the 60's and 70's my family kept a small flock in the backyard of our house in Brooklyn. Maybe a dozen birds, if that. You could get away with a lot in Brooklyn back then. LOL One day my folks came home from a visit upstate with a crate of 6 white hens. They had stopped at a farm to get fresh produce and in talking to the farmer got on the subject of chickens. When my dad mentioned that we had some back home, the farmer mentioned that he had some old layers that weren't doing their business anymore; maybe one or two eggs a week at best. He said that they were scheduled to go to the great chicken coop in the sky. One thing lead to another and my dad ended up buying the hens for 50 cents or a buck each. He figured that if they didn't lay we could always make soup. Those poor hens looked miserable; skinny, clipped beaks, feathers missing, I swear that some of the poor things had a nervous twitch. Dad threw them in with the other hens and roosters and basically kissed it up to god. After a few days those old hens began to settle in and actually started to put on weight and lay. Within a couple of months we were getting 4 or 5 eggs a week out of those old birds! Better than 2 dozen eggs from $3 - $6 worth of throw away hens. Not bad! Shows you what a little tender loving care, good food and fresh air (our birds were all free-range even though we didn't know to call it that 50 years ago, just the right way to keep chickens) will do for a bird.

Boil eggs

A large egg to avoid sulpher ring around yolk when boiling. Place eggs in pot with water to cover, put on stove med. high heat, when start boiling 10 minutes remove from heat, drain, immediately put into ice water. add 1 minute for X large and minus 1 min for med.

All Color Eggs Are Good!

I have three chickens at home and each of them lay a different color: one brown, one pink, and one white. I have done taste tests with them and honestly they all are the same... I don't think me or my friends can tell the difference with any accuracy. I do feed the chickens all the same food, so I wonder if that might be the biggest difference between the taste of eggs... that and how fresh they are...

Egg Nomenclature

What is the name of the 'clear' fluid contained in a raw egg, before it is cooked & becomes egg white?

Egg Term

The clear substance is most often just called “egg white” (both when cooked and raw), but it may also be called “albumen.”

Eggs

Grade AA egg must be less than ten days old from packing, a Grade A, 30 days; thanks for the tip Old Farmer's Almanac!; Interesting; my comment is this: "concerning edible food; Eggs and Eggs alone stand as the most "perfect form of Protein"; discovered for "man's health";
this is why "body builders" use Egg White Protein Powder; (note: Raw Eggs are not recommended"; Eggs also have Vitamins A; D & E !!!;

Fresh Eggs;

Fresh Eggs (cooked in any way); would be better than any manmade heated commercial Egg White Powder; "the incredible edible egg";

Refrigeration

It depends on if the eggs are washed or unwashed. Commercial eggs in the US tends to be washed and would need to be refrigerated. When I lived in Europe, my friends were horrified that I stored eggs in the fridge and that I would buy two dozen at a time.

My grandmother never washed her chickens' eggs and chances are your aunts didn't either and that is why they were not stored in the fridge. Eggs do last longer in the fridge but I like the taste of unrefrigerated eggs better.

Refrigeration

Do eggs need to be refrigerated or can they be left out? I remember as a kid, two of my aunts, one who raised chickens and sold their eggs, left the eggs out of the frig. Today, I hear they should always be kept cold. Should they or shouldn't they? Thanks.

Eggs must be refrigerated;

Eggs must be refrigerated; I think this is the USDA law for restaurants; (eating eggs in restaruants is risky); I do not eat raw eggs nor do my cats; I hard-boil";

Standing eggs on end

You can stand an egg on end on any day of the year; I've done it many, many times to show up superstitious types who insist that it only works on the Equinox...

Equinox

We have successfully stood eggs on their ends during the spring equinox. My kids get a kick out of it every year!!

Like Brown Eggs Best

Brown eggs are richer in flavor imo.

Eggs and cholesterol

I have to worry about ?cholesterol in the eggs since they have 185mg of cholesterol. Why don't anyone mention that fact?

This is not a page about the

This is not a page about the health and nutrition of eggs. It is supposed to be fun and informative about things you may not have known about eggs. Hope you enjoyed it.

Times, they are a changin'

I'm guessing this isn't a medical site, however, you may wish to speak to your doctor because new research shows they made a mistake, once again, concerning eggs. Now, it seems certain types of cholesterol is good for the body and eggs, may just be one of them.

Eggs & Cholesterol

You would want to consult with your Dr. of course, however, the latest research would indicate that eggs in moderation, may actually be beneficial. Most of the latest science is indicating that sugar is more of a culprit then anything. Check out the Harvard School of Public Health for some of the most up to date info.

I am allergic to chicken

I am allergic to chicken eggs. Is it possible that i wouldn't be allergic to duck eggs? Or is an egg the same no matter where it comes from?

According to the Institute of

According to the Institute of Health, people with allergies to hen’s eggs may cross-react to other types of eggs (like duck and quail eggs). That said, there are people who are allergic to hens' eggs and not sensitive to ducks' eggs -- and people who can't 'tolerate ducks' eggs, but are fine with hens' eggs.

Yes! It it quite possible

Yes! It it quite possible that you would be fine with duck eggs! Somehow they are different, and I know many people who can't not eat chicken eggs, yet can eat duck eggs. It might be worth experimenting!

Maybe give quail eggs a try.

Maybe give quail eggs a try. They are really tasty and they have much less cholesterol than regular chicken eggs.

Like brown the best, there

Like brown the best, there also a pinkish brown eggs, &
blue ones. I see on FB than someone hen lay a egg than have whole egg inside it. I wonder want can of myth we could get started with than! HAHA

I will not eat a brown egg at

I will not eat a brown egg at home.will bake with them and probably have eaten them when eating out.Just a family thing I guess...mom wouldn't eat them either

I often find a double yolk.

I often find a double yolk. What was the "old wives tale" re a double yolk egg? Wasn't it bad luck to eat an egg with two yolks?

In most of folklore, doulbe

In most of folklore, doulbe yolk eggs are considered to be a symbol of good fortune.

Double yoke egg's

This is an old post but just in case others are interested. When chickens are young their egg producing systems haven't got the hang of it yet and they may produce many variations of egg type's. Some may have double yoke's and others may be extremely large or be extraordinarily small.
Many year's ago A trucker that patronised the gas station I worked at brought down from A chicken farm in central Wisconsin cases of egg's that were unsellable because of the odd egg's that their young stock produced. Many of them had double yoke's. 2 dozen free egg's every week! Those were the day's!!!

Brown !!!

Brown !!!

My parents used to raise 47

My parents used to raise 47 different breeds of chickens. My Dad showed them at several county fairs each year (2 hens & 1 rooster per pen). He had very little competition in all 47 different breeds. The premiums were the same for a pig, a sheep, or a cow & the chickens took up less space on the shipping truck, taking them all to the fair. And the chickens didn't need as much feed as the other livestock either.

Just a memory from a former Farm Kid.

We prefer brown eggs, to me

We prefer brown eggs, to me they have a better flavor, we have laying hens

Fresh organic eggs,

Fresh organic eggs, nutritious,
No hormones

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