West Mountain Farm

Pastured Pigs, Free-Range Chickens, Biodynamic Gardening, Homesteading

Archive for the month “October, 2012”

Why I don’t wash my eggs….

Nature has a way of doing things right; and with small scale farming the human has a unique opportunity to go along with nature. When a hen lays an egg she coats it with an oil to protect the embryo from harmful things entering the egg (salmonella for instance), and to let the thousands of egg shell pores keep a correct oxygen and moisture balance. This coating is called the the ‘bloom’ I had no idea why it was called a bloom until I walked in the coop to gather an eggs on a cool sunny day, one of my buff orpington hens jumped out of a nest box singing her egg call, I looked in and saw a shiny egg, picked it up, before my eyes the coating dried, in a way that resembled a time lapse flower bloom. Where I had held the eggs with two fingers was my fingerprints left on the egg shell, where my interactions had interfered with natures bloom. Washing removes this coating and leaves the egg to lose its ‘freshness’ quicker and absorb refrigerator smells. The freshness of an egg is measured by its ability to hold together while frying, and beat into nice peaks for impeccable meringues and other culinary goodness. If washed,  the egg will age quicker because air will enter the egg, create a larger air sack, and the albumin (egg white) will break down quicker. No need to throw out older eggs use them for boiling or scrambling. Very fresh eggs are a frustrating to peel as the albumin is too tight against the shell, thus making them hard to peel, despite putting them in ice water. So fresh eggs for frying and baking, and older eggs for boiling. If you want to speed up the aging process because you want to make deviled eggs the next day, simply wash the eggs and leave them in room temperature for a day or so. CLEAN, unwashed farm eggs *may be safer from internal contamination of salmonella and other harmful organisms.

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So what does this mean if you keep your own chickens? Nest boxes clean and full of fresh bedding such as: straw, wood chips, hay, etc. Coop needs to stay clean as well so the birds aren’t walking in their own mess, either clean the coop regularly, till the coop, or practice deep litter method and clean twice a year. Gather the eggs at LEAST twice a day and refrigerate immediately, preferably in a separate freezer if you sell eggs, this will prevent eggs absorbing fridge odor. Sanitize re-used egg cartons. Keeping the fridge clean and sanitary is important as well. Keeping a clean and healthy flock (TPIP free) will give you piece of mind that its safe to lick the batter and have runny yolks.

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