Inexpensive, versatile, and high in protein, eggs are a staple of cuisines around the world and an indispensable binding agent
How to Choose Eggs
Brown and white eggs don’t differ in taste or nutritional content. Shells should be intact (harmful bacteria can get inside a crack); and be sure to check the expiration date on the packaging. Freshly laid eggs from a local farm or farmers’ market will have vibrant, golden yellow yolks, which are much more flavorful than the paler yolks of commercially sold eggs.
Here’s a quick primer on the labels you’ll see at the market:
Natural, All Natural: A term the USDA defines as “containing no artificial ingredient or added color” and “only minimally processed.” The chicken it came from may have been fed antibiotics.
Cage-free: A USDA certification that guarantees the chickens have not be kept in cages and are given unlimited access to food and fresh water. Keep in mind though, they may still be packed together indoors in unhygienic conditions.
Omega-3s: An omega-3 label on a carton usually means the chickens were given feed fortified with flax seeds. Each egg provides between 100 to 600 mg of Omega-3s (an unfortified egg has on average 30 mg).
USDA Certified Organic: The eggs come from hens that eat organic feed, are not given hormones or antibiotics, are allowed access to the outdoors and sunlight, and—most important—are USDA inspected. This is the most eco-conscious choice.
Certified Humane: In this inspection-monitored program, hens have to be fed a nutritious diet (not necessarily organic) and raised with sufficient space to perform “natural behaviors,” such as foraging and nesting. Look for the “Certified Humane Raised and Handled” logo.
Fertile: The eggs were laid by hens that lived with roosters. But fertilized eggs are no more nutritious than others.
No Antibiotics: A claim that poultry was raised without them, for which the USDA requires documentation.
No Hormones: This labeling is superfluous, since use of hormones in poultry is illegal.
How to Store Eggs
Refrigerate eggs for up to a month in their container (the porous shells absorb odors). Store hard-boiled eggs in the shell for up to a week; once peeled, they should be used immediately. Leftover egg whites can be refrigerated, tightly covered, for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 6 months; yolks can be refrigerated for up to 2 days but don’t freeze well.
How to Prepare Eggs
The USDA recommends that eggs not be eaten raw or undercooked. Especially at risk of salmonella infection are infants, young children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems.
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