Eggs Side-by-Side

This Sunday is Easter and many of you will be buying eggs to color and perhaps fix for Easter breakfast. Do you know where the eggs you buy come from? Do you know what the hens were fed and how they were housed?

Some hens are raised in cages and are fed a blend of grains, soybeans, and vitamins. They lay eggs whose yolk is light yellow in color. I won’t even go into some of what I consider less than savory practices of raising chickens this way. This is where the vast majority of the eggs you can purchase at your local grocery store come from. Don’t assume that the eggs you purchase at the Farmers’ Market are not raised this way. Ask what the hens are fed and if they are kept in cages.

Completely at the other end of the spectrum are eggs from hens that spend most of their time outside, pecking around on grass and eating insects. These hens produce eggs that have bright yellow and sometimes almost orange colored yolks. Studies have shown that these eggs are higher in omega-3s and vitamins A, B12 and E and lower in fat and cholesterol.

Eggshells can be brown, blue or white. Most commercially produced eggs have either white or brown shells. Eggshell color only indicates what breed the chicken that laid the eggs was. It doesn’t indicate what the chicken was fed. In other words, eggshell color really doesn’t matter when choosing eggs.

To my mind the best eggs come from the chickens that roam around eating grass and insects. They are the kind of eggs I was raised on and that I still enjoy the most. There is nothing tastier than a truly fresh egg, gently fried in butter and served with a nice piece of toast to use for “yolk-dipping”.

I recently received a dozen of these luscious pasture-raised eggs from a friend who raises her own chickens. I photographed them to show you how visibly different the yolks are and how beautiful the variations in eggshell colors can be. The blue colored eggs come from Araucana hens.

The next time you shop for eggs consider not just price, but what the hens were fed and how they were housed.  Choosing eggs from hens that are pasture fed is not only a healthier choice for you and your family, it’s a more humane choice for the hens.

Here’s wonderful little quiche recipe you might try for Sunday brunch or an evening dinner.

Crab Quiche in Bacon Crust

Pastry for one crust pie

4 slices of Applewood smoked bacon

1 cup grated Gruyère cheese

1 leek, sliced thinly, sautéed in oil

¾ pound crab meat, flaked

3 eggs, beaten slightly

1 ½ cups milk

1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon grated lemon peel

½ teaspoon Worcestershire

1/8 teaspoon dried thyme, if you’re using fresh thyme use 1/4 teaspoon finely chopped

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Line a 9-inch pie pan with pastry. Cook bacon until crisp; drain thoroughly. When cool, crumble; press gently into bottom and sides of the pastry that lines the pie pan. (At this point you can cover the pie crust and refrigerate overnight, if you wish.) Arrange crabmeat, Gruyère cheese and sautéed leek in bottom of pie shell. Beat eggs slightly; add milk, fresh parsley, nutmeg, grated lemon peel, Worcestershire, thyme and pepper. Pour over crab in pie shell. Bake in a very hot oven (450°) for 10 minutes; reduce heat to 350° and bake 30 minutes longer or until filling is set. Cut in 6 wedges.

Modified from a recipe in Sunset Breakfasts & Brunches © 1966


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