FoodFacts: EGGS

RER 10.3.12
So there are so many different kinds of eggs, from so many different kinds of animals, but let’s just focus on the kind we are most familiar with, chicken eggs. Even in that category, there are so many different kinds of eggs; different colors, shapes, sizes, speckled, brown… There are also a wide array of factors that contribute to eggs, how they are produced and even how they taste! Eggciting!

Eggs are an eggcellent source of nutritional value. They just happen to be one of nature’s most economical and nutritious food sources,[1] perhaps the world’s most affordable sources of protein.[2] These small and mighty orbs of goodness are jammed packed with protein. Also, it’s cool that “egg protein is the standard by which other protein sources are measured.”[3] They also have an amazing array of amino acids, vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, iron, potassium, A, D, and E.[4]  There are about 70 calories per egg.[5] According to the American Egg Board, a large egg contains 6 grams of protein and 4.5 grams of fat, which is only about 7% of the recommended daily value of fat. [6]

This has created a market for the mass production of eggs. As I learned on both a cooking show with Bobby Dean (the Great Paula’s own son) and on History Channels, “Modern Marvels: Egg” episode, hens produce an egg as frequently as once a day, to every other day, but some times as infrequently as every three days.[7] Hens lay 80 billion eggs a year, just in the United States alone. There are about as many hens as there are people in the United States, and each hen lays about as many eggs as the average person eats a year, 250 eggs. [8] This just shows the vastness of the industry, and the importance of the egg as a resource to the human population.

According to whatscookingaemrica.net the color of the shell of the egg gives no insight into the nutritional value, but rather the kind of hen that produced the egg.[9] What does change the egg, not necessarily in its nutritional value (all the great vitamins, minerals and proteins), but the taste of the egg, is the diet that the laying hen is on. This has become a very interesting point in the history of the egg. The likes of Bobby Dean and his culinary friends, or even those who can afford about $8 a dozen, tend to look for hens that are fed very specific, organic and varied diets.[10] This increases and changes the flavor of the egg.

Despite their nutritional eggcellence, eggs and their consumption are always in debate. Some debates are about disease and sickness, whereas others are more in the vein of health and nutritional facts.

According to foodsaftey.org, you really want to cook the egg until both the yolk and the whites are firm, but that is not really fun, nor how many people prefer their eggs.[11] It seems like there are as many people that like a runny yolk, as those who prefer a firm yolk. That firm yolk, means that all the little germies that can be running around in eggs, causing salmonella and other food contamination issues, are dead and gone.

Then there is the debacle of if eggs are actually good for you or not. There is a ton of protein hiding inside each little egg, but it has also been found that there is a large amount of fat and maybe too much cholesterol in each egg. Most of this cholesterol and fat is found in the yolk of the egg, so the answer for a while was to avoid the yellow yolks and just stick to the egg whites. Doing that the diner gains much of the protein present in the egg, but also looses so many of the other healthy attributes and benefits of the egg in its entirety.[12] The yolk is where all the egg’s vitamin A,D and E are located[13] as well as most of the antioxidants, minerals and other vitamins.[14] It was even found in a study that the human body may not even be able to absorb much of that cholesterol, which makes up approximately two thirds of the suggested daily amount.[15]

Because eggs are one of the most nutritious and delicious gifts, there are so many eggciting ways to prepare and serve it. Different cuisines and preferences, lend to a large variety of styles of preparations.
RER 8.15.12
The fried egg, apparently, is from the mastery of the French kitchen, and involves butter to cook, lots of butter. The way the French master executed, zee fried egg, was like a mixture of frying and poaching (in butter) at the same time. Check out the link whatscookingamerica.net's eggspertise on poached eggs. [16] Nowadays, the art of the fried egg is much more minimal; egg, non stick pan, butter or other fat agent, and spatula… don’t forget the egg. Some people cover the egg (which does make it cook better and more evenly and fully).

Fried eggs come in the form of sunny side up, over easy, and over hard. Now, the sunny side up fried egg, may not always follow the guidelines of temperatures and firm yolks that foodsafety.org warns us about, though covering does help the egg to cook more fully. Sunny side up requires no flipping or tossing, this is when the yolk is up and visible (yolk=sun). These fried eggs are great for the kinds of people who like a less firm yolk. I have also heard, by word of mouth, that if the yolk feels warm to the touch, it is cooked enough to eat. Over easy is just that, a gentle flip, so the yolk side gets some heat attention. Over easy leads to over hard, when the yolk gets cooked to the firmer standard.

Scrambled has to be one of the easiest ways to prepare an egg. It also is like a blank canvas, because anything can be added to scrambled eggs to customize the meal. Ingredients like cheeses, vegetables, proteins, herbs and spices, can be just the right addition to scrambled eggs to take them to the next level of delicious.

There are countless cooking show episodes and youtube videos and recipes detailing the science and art of scrambled eggs (Alton Brown  or even allrecipes or even more). To me the key is not to overcook the eggs when looking for the perfect taste and texture. Whisking the eggs along with a little milk and seasoning doesn’t hurt either. But the constant movement of the eggs in the hot pan with butter, deffo is where the trick is. Once the eggs turn brown, they are burned and dry and most definitely not delicious.

I would dare say that omelets are the cousin to scrambled eggs, because most times, they both start off in the same way; eggs, milk, seasoning, stuff, whisk and pan. With omelets there is less movement in the pan, but a similar fluffy texture because of whisking. Like with scrambled eggs there are endless possibilities in terms of flavors, add-ons, ingredients and styles. Omelets are a great way to play with your food and get some serious protein.

Hard or soft boiled
Boiled eggs, are when the full egg, shell and all, are submerged in hot water. Calling them “boiled” eggs is actually incorrect, because if you were to really boil them the egg would become tough and rubbery.[17] So technically, it should be called “cooking” them. In order for the texture to be delicious and more edible, the water should be still, but hot. The yolks of hard boiled eggs are solid, whereas the yolks of the soft variety are looser and more liquidy. Whatscookingamerica.net gives a really great run down. 

Poached eggs are definitely an art form that accompany a wide array of benedicts, that engage different flavors and ingredients. But poaching eggs, is not quite the easiest, and it takes practice to perfect (just look at restaurants, they do not always produce perfect poached eggs every time, unfortunately). Even with poaching eggs there are different methods. Some methods just require water, an egg and a spoon, others include vinegar or egg rings, poaching cups and microwaves. This site enumerates the options very well, as well gives a detailed play by play of poaching eggs the old fashioned way and gives info on all the doodads that can be used in the process. The best poached egg fact, revealed on whatscookingamerica.net, is that the fresher the egg the better for poaching (well, I would assume this is in general). With eggs that are more than a week old, the whites of the egg begin to thin out, this then makes the end result of a poached egg messier. The whites of a fresher egg will surround the yolk much more compactly and result in a neater rounder shape. Isn’t this the point? I always thought that poached eggs were one of the more refined methods of making them…

Not only are there a zillion different ways to prepare eggs on their own, eggs feature a giant part in cooking in general. There are eggs in many baking recipes; cakes, cookies… There are puddings and custards, that definitely demand the presence of eggs. There are egg washes for ravioli or pastries, or dipping for frying. And on top of that, there are eggs in savory dishes too; meatloafs and hamburgers. Eggs are EVERYWHERE (unfortunately eggvrywhere does not work too well).

There are also different kinds of eggs that we typically consume, other than the most common chicken egg. We humans like to eat quail eggs and ostrich eggs when we are being fancy. Quail eggs are much smaller than the typical chicken egg, and have a different taste than the common egg. These tiny eggs are used in gourmet arenas, and make frequent appearances on Iron Chef America. Ostrich eggs are at the other extreme; they are enormous, with an extremely thick and sturdy shell that takes power tools to crack open. These giant eggs also have about as many calories as our daily recommended dose.[18] In England, as well as some Scandinavian countries, the gull eggs are known as delicacies.[19]

Now that you have the FoodFacts and are an eggspert… go and eggsperience!
Don't forget to check out the sources page for more light reading on the incredible edible egg!
RER 10.3.12

[1] Foodsafety.gov “Eggs”
[2] History Channel Modern Marvels “Eggs”
[3] American Egg Board “Egg Nutrition Facts”
[4] Wikipedia.org “Egg”
[5] American Egg Board “Egg Nutrition Facts”
[6] American Egg Board “Egg Nutrition Facts”
[7] History Channel Modern Marvels “Eggs”
[8] History Channel Modern Marvels “Eggs”
[9] whatscookingamerica.net “Egg FAQs”
[10] History Channel Modern Marvels “Eggs”
[11] Foodsafety.gov “Eggs”
[12]whatscookingamerica.net “Egg Whites vs. Whole Eggs”
[13] Wikipedia.org “Egg”
[14] whatscookingamerica.net “Egg Whites vs. Whole Eggs”
[15] Wikipedia.org “Egg”
[16] whatscookingamerica.net “Fried Eggs”
[17] whatscookingamerica.net “Eggs”
[18] History Channel Modern Marvels “Eggs”
[19] Wikipedia.org “Egg”


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