Eggs aren’t just a part of the traditional American diet: they’re a staple all over the globe. From scrambles to soufflé, eggs take up a lot of real estate in our global gastronomy, yet those little guys still hold a good deal of mystery.
Because eggs have become so commonplace in our lives, we tend to take them for granted and not ask too many questions. But as it turns out, when cracked, eggs have a lot more to spill than just some long-running yolks…
1. An eggshell can have as many as 17,000 pores all over its surface, which allow tiny amounts of air to pass through the shell. To test if an egg is safe to consume, drop it in a bowl of water. If the egg sinks, its fresh. If the egg floats, it signals that it has amassed enough air to form an air pocket within the shell.
2. Despite popular belief, the thickness of an eggshell has nothing to do with the egg’s color or the breed of hen. The thickness of shell is contingent on the age of the laying hen. Younger hens lay thicker-shelled eggs, while older hens deliver thinner shells.
3. “Cage-free” is a big fat misnomer! The only requirement to slap a “cage-free” label on a carton is that each bird has 120-square inches of space to subsist. Many of these hens spend their lives very much in a cage, and often never leave the confines of their indoor aviaries.
4. On a lighter note, did you know that iconic white chef hat is actually an ode to the egg? Marie-Antoine Carême, the pioneering French chef of grande cuisine inspired the look when he wore a white chefs hat that stood 18 inches tall and was adorned with 100 pleats for the 100 different ways you can cook an egg.
5. This stringy, white substance attached to the yolk of most eggs is called the chalaza, and it is actually a sign that your egg is fresh and safe to eat. The chalaza acts as an anchor to keep the yolk centered in the middle of the egg, rather than settling on one side. Thanks, chalaza!
6. Ever wonder where eggshells get their color? It actually is determined by the breed of the hen. You can tell what color egg a hen will lay by the color of her earlobes — yes, earlobes! Chickens with white earlobes will lay white eggs, while those with red earlobes are dropping the brown eggs.
7. Clucking about eggshell color, what’s up with blue eggs?! Turns out there aren’t Avatar hens, but over 500 years ago, there was an outbreak of a strange virus affecting many South American hens. This resulted in a genetic mutation that caused the birds to accumulate a pigment known as biliverdin, leading the hens to produce blue and green eggs.
8. How many eggs can a lay hen lay, if a lay hen could lay… lay? Well, according to a recent survey there are approximately 280 million laying hens in the United States, each throwing down about 250-300 eggs per calendar year. That is 84 billion eggs in the U.S. alone!
9. Coming in at number one for egg production is China. Chinese hens deliver 160 billion eggs per year! But don’t get too cocky China, you may have the most eggs in your baskets, but France still has the most pleats in their hats, and we all know what that means (well, now we do).
10. While we’re on international affairs, you may be wondering why Americans refrigerate eggs and Europeans don’t. This has to do with the differences in the production process regulated by the FDA and the EMA to protect against salmonella.
In the States, eggs are thoroughly washed and sanitized before being shipped to market. This process removes the natural protective cuticle around the shell, making the egg vulnerable to bacteria. In Europe, hens are vaccinated against Salmonella, thus the eggs do not go through the same cleansing process, and their protective cuticle remains intact.
11. Yet another misleading marketing maneuver is the “hormone-free” labels on certain cartons of eggs. Unless you are shopping for seriously expired eggs, ALL EGGS ARE HORMONE-FREE! The FDA banned the use of hormones in all poultry back in the 1950s. That means chicken meat and eggs are harmoniously hormone-less.
12. All eggs are created equal. Maybe, not entirely true. On the other hand, we do know for sure that despite their color at maturity, all eggs start out as white eggs.
13. On the egg equality note, are we paying a premium price for brown eggs over white eggs because they are a premium egg? No, in fact, nutritionally speaking, white and brown eggs are the same. The reason for the higher price is because brown egg laying hens are typically a larger breed of bird and require more feed.
14. The age-old debate, white vs yolk! When it comes to protein both opponents are holding down 3 grams. Calorically, whites are weighing in at 15 while the yolks are coming in at an impressive 60! Don’t let the calories turn you off, though: yolks contain a ton of micronutrients. So just relax and take a yolk why don’t ya.
15. If you’re still cracking up from that last joke and dropped an egg, just grab the salt! An old trick for cleaning up raw egg is to sprinkle it with salt, leave it to absorb for about ten minutes, and then simply wipe it up. Ten out of ten nutritionists recommend one should not consume the egg at this point.
16. Never seen a B grade egg? That’s probably because they aren’t sold in the supermarket. B grade eggs are the poorest quality of egg, often with thin whites, flat yolks, and occasionally, blood spots. These eggs are sent to commercial production plants where they are made into liquid and powdered egg products.
17. We may never know which came first, the chicken or the egg, but you can rest assured the eggs you buy in the store, won’t be hatching into baby chicks. A hen must mate with a rooster for the egg to be fertilized. The eggs you buy are laid by un-mated ladies.
18. Who is the mother hen of mother hens? Lady Harriet, folks, pushed out an egg in 2010 measuring 9.1 inches in diameter! You know what else is 9-something inches in diameter? A BASKETBALL! You can retire now, Harriet. You’ve won.
19. Sunshine isn’t the only way to soak up vitamin D. You can turn to some sunny side ups for that essential vitamin, too. Eggs are one of the few food sources that contain vitamin D along with milk, and certain types of fish. Who knew how much an egg could brighten your day?
20. If you’re trying to get totally yolked, eating raw eggs won’t do you any good. Contrary to the mega muscle media, consuming raw eggs is providing you with less digestible protein than a cooked egg. A raw egg’s protein is only 51 percent digestible, where a cooked egg has 91 percent digestible protein.