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Posts Tagged ‘free range eggs’

Walking around at my usual Sunday market, I passed by a stall that sells fresh duck.  I wasn’t in the mood to buy duck that day but I saw a little unassuming sign that said, “DUCK EGGS, $5”.  My heart skipped a beat but I didn’t grab the chance to buy it.  We walked back to the car and I was really regretting it so I ran back and ended up buying two dozen!!  They were gorgeous, different colours and natural i.e. with all the poop, feathers and straw on them!  As soon as I got home though, I realised that I couldn’t eat two dozen duck eggs so I sent it around to four of my friends.

I always heard that duck eggs make great custards and I now understand why.  Unlike chicken eggs, duck eggs have a higher yolk to white proportion.  The yolks are beautifully rich and creamy and good yolks are essential in making GREAT custard.  I scoured the internet to see if others blogged about duck eggs but was rather disappointed to find so few.  Any Chinese person would be familiar with duck eggs because they often use duck eggs for preservation, using them for 1,000 yr. old eggs and sometimes salted eggs.

The first night, we just pan friend them with a touch of oil and I ate it with rice and some fried shallots (like you get in Malaysia/Singapore on noodles) and a squirt of Sriracha – divine!  I have also hard boiled them but today, I decided to poach one alongside a regular free-range chicken egg.  I tell you, I ate the chicken egg first and I am glad that I did because when I bit into the duck egg, oh man, you just cannot compare the two!  The richness and deeply concentrated flavour of the duck egg was so much creamier and tastier.

How are they different?  For one, duck eggs are larger than chicken eggs.  Not only are the yolks larger, the egg white has a bizarre, almost rubbery texture that I find slightly strange.  If you pan fry it, the white sets really quickly but the yolks take a bit longer so it’s better to cook it at a lower heat than you would chicken eggs.  Be careful and don’t overindulge on duck eggs as one egg contains twice the amount of cholesterol than chicken eggs.  But definitely, if you come across them at any time, they are definitely worth it.

Don’t be scared of quail, duck, goose or even Ostrich eggs!  Next time I go to Barcelona, I am going to rent an apartment and cook one of those Ostrich eggs! 🙂

Different Duck Egg Colours - I LOVE the blue one!!

Comparing duck eggs to a chicken egg (far right). You can see the duck eggs are slightly larger and have a more transparent shell. I LOVE the blue eggs!

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Even before I wrote a paper on eggs, I have always adored eggs. Eggs are truly the ultimate fast food complete with its own packaging. A single boiled egg is “cheap as chips” and has been a savior for me many times when I was running a little late to work and didn’t have time for breakfast – a dash of salt & pepper and a cup of coffee gave me instant low-GI protein and prevented me from passing out until lunch.

My lovely neighbor Sue worked with someone who owned several hundred chickens (we call them chooks in Australia) and sold them for a mere $3.00/dozen for free range eggs which is an absolute bargain considering some of the free-range eggs are up to $6.50/dozen. They were delivered to me fort-nightly and I really enjoyed knowing who my supplier was. Sadly those egg supplies have stopped as the woman sold her entire flock to someone else. 😦

Eggs for me are definitely an item that I do not skimp on. I will pay the extra money to buy the best eggs available in the market. Recently I watched a food program that featured a chicken farmer explaining the difference between caged eggs versus free range and he said that if you were blind-folded, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference and that the reason why you pay more for free range is for animal welfare. I am not sure that I believe that fully because eggs taste different depending on the feed that they are given and surely their high stress level can’t be good for the eggs they produce. Regardless, I feel happier knowing that the chooks that laid my eggs were not stressed out in a battery hen factory.

Here in SA, we have a few suppliers of free-range eggs and Fryar’s Kangaroo Island Free Range Eggs on Kangaroo Island and Rosie’s Free Range Eggs from Eudunda in the Barossa Valley (the most famous wine growing region in Australia) are a couple of producers that I purchase and we are lucky to have such a wealth of produce here. I love opening a carton of eggs and occasionally finding a small feather or even chicken poo on the egg – I don’t know, it makes it much more authentic to me. In the states, unless close to farms, so many commercially produced food products are so sterile that chicken poo or feathers would probably be totally frowned upon!

It is interesting that nearly all eggs produced here are brown in color and nearly all eggs in the USA are white. Brown eggs are more pricey in the states and often sold as fertile but the main difference in color just has to do with the variety of chickens that lays the eggs. I guess that’s another “cultural” difference that I have noticed.

My first experience of the natural “Easter” colored eggs was at Chez Panisse where I saw a large bowl full of these pastel blue, green and pink eggs. I couldn’t take my eyes off of them because I couldn’t believe that they were natural and they were so exotic to me. Since then, I have tried to learn as much as I can about chicken breeds and egg varieties (but by no means am I an expert). One of the chicken breeds that lays blue eggs is called the Araucana and can trace its bloodline from two rare South American breeds – Collonca and Quetero.

If you ever have a chance to go to England, head to either Sainsbury, ASDA or Waitrose grocery stores and look for Clarence Court Free Range Eggs that specialize in rare breeds. Their “Old Cotswold Legbar” lays eggs in a variety of beautiful pastel colors including, turquoise, blue, olive, pink, peach and eau-de-nil. They are producing doing duck, goose, pheasant, quail and Ostrich eggs as well! Just beware, if you purchase an ostrich egg, it is equivalent to 24 chicken eggs!

Eggs may seem like plain old breakfast food for some but it is pretty divine to have a truffle-scented omelet with a salad and a glass of champagne or a rich crème caramel!

Ostrich & Emu eggs for sale in Barcelona

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