Eating eggs

(or Everything you wanted to know about your chicken egg, but didn't know who to ask).

Have you ever found an egg with a red spot in it?

These blood spots are sometimes found on an egg yolk. Many people think that the spot indicates the beginnings of embryo development in that egg. However, the eggs you buy are not fertilized. The blood spot, or meat spot as it is sometimes called, is caused by the breaking of a blood vessel on the yolk surface during formation of the egg. Less than 1% of all the eggs produced have them and attempts are made to remove these eggs. You can still eat the egg. Chemically and nutritionally there is no difference between eggs with and without a blood spot.

Do you like brown or white eggs?

Egg colour has nothing to do with egg quality, flavour, nutritive value, cooking characteristics or shell thicknesses, it is a genetically-controlled trait. You may pay more for brown eggs in Canada because they are not as readily available. The breeds that lay white eggs have white ear tufts while those that lay brown eggs have red feathers and ear tufts.

What about yolk colour?

Yolk colour may vary from bright yellow-orange to very pale yellow-white. The colour depends on what the bird has been eating, on how much carotenoid pigment is in the diet. Artificial colour additives are not permitted in bird feed but certain combinations of food in their diets will give egg yolks particular colours.

Have you ever met an egg worm?

Really, these white strands you may find in a freshly cracked egg are not worms but parts of the egg. They are called chalazae. They are not beginning embryos but structures that suspend the yolk inside the shell and allow it to rotate. When an egg has been fertilized, the chalazae enable the embryo to always stay on top of the yolk. The more evident the chalazae are, the fresher the egg. Egg worms are good.

There are many uses for eggshells

Eggshells make fantastic compost material. They provide the soil with good quantities of the minerals calcium and magnesium. Eggshells may be decorated for Easter. The world's biggest pysanka (Ukrainian Easter egg) is in Vegreville, Alberta.

Egg nutrition

The egg yolk contains more vitamins than the egg white or albumen. The yolk also contains all the fat and about half of the protein. As well, the yolk is a good source of a number of minerals including: phosphorus, manganese, iron, iodine, copper, calcium and zinc. The yolk of a large egg yields about 60 kilocalories.

Have you ever had a double-yolked egg?

Double-yolked eggs are not that uncommon. Usually they are laid by young hens whose cycles of egg production are not yet regular. Sometimes they are produced by hens who are old enough to lay extra large eggs. Very rarely, young hens will produce an egg with no yolk at all.

Do you know why free-range eggs cost more?

These eggs are produced by hens that are either raised outdoors or who have daily access to the outdoors. Greater costs are associated with raising free-ranging hens, so eggs from these birds cost more than factory eggs.

Have you heard of Salmonella?

Salmonella enteritidis is a bacterium that only rarely causes illness in a person. The bacterium is found in the intestinal tracts of a variety of: mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and insects. If it is consumed in large enough numbers it may cause a number of symptoms such as abdominal cramps, fever, headache, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. It is rarely fatal. If a Salmonella-contaminated egg is refrigerated promptly, the bacteria should not multiply to high enough levels to make a healthy person sick.

Have you ever eaten eggs that were not from a chicken?

Until around the 1900's, eggs from wild birds were prized as food. According to a tasting panel in England, the more conspicuously-coloured the egg shell, the worse the egg tastes. Experiments with several egg-eating mammals including cats, ferrets, mongoose, hedgehogs and rats, lends support to the findings of the tasting panel. The eggs that tasted the worst were all very bitter.

Do you know how to tell if an egg is hard-cooked or raw?

All you have to do is spin it. If the egg spins easily, it is hard-cooked. If it wobbles, the egg is raw.

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