Intriguing Egg Facts and Folklore

Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Eggs

January 2, 2018
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! 

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Reader Comments

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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

The Editors's picture

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.

Allergies to chicken/hen’s eggs.

Our son has an allergy to eggs. However, it was discovered that when he ate eggs which were fertilized he did not have an allergic reaction. It seems that that fertilization gets of the egg in some way changes the component which, at least for our son, causes the allergic reaction. This “”fact”was discovered during reading of some periodical by the misses more than 40 years ago. To this date it still holds true for the son. When he buys eggs from a source which can confirm that the eggs have been fertilized that when eaten he does not experience an allergic reaction.

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

I've always preferred brown

I've always preferred brown eggs.

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