So as we know, store-bought eggs can’t even compare to fresh eggs, even if the eggs are from the finest commercial egg farms. When you know where your eggs come from and what the hens were fed, you really learn to appreciate the taste and the source more.
Recently I noticed that fresh egg whites seem to hold their shape, while store-bought egg whites fall flat when cracked. Weird, right? So curious, me and my family conducted an experiment with store-bought eggs and our chickens eggs. The reasoning behind this was really to satisfy my curiosity, prove if fresh eggs really are worth the hype, and to see why the whites hold differently in different aged eggs.
A Little Back-round Knowledge
As all of us backyard chicken keepers know, fresh eggs beat store-bought eggs by a long run, but just what does make them so much better? Taste? Quality? How about all of the above, and here’s why.
- Eggshell color and why it doesn’t matter: Eggs from the store are typically laid by good egg laying breeds such as Welsummers, Rhode Island Reds, and Leghorns, which is why the eggshells are typically brown and white. Most free-range advertised eggs are brown, but the egg color doesn’t make a difference in taste. The different egg colors is just the result of the different pigment color of the chicken’s natural pigment they lay on the eggs, not based on diet. The reason you’ve probably seen most backyard chickens laying blue, green, and chocolate-brown eggs is simply breed choice, not feed or treat intake.
- Yolk color/taste: Crack a store-bought egg, then crack a farm fresh, free range chickens egg into a bowl side by side. The free range egg has a darker yolk than the store-bought, right? That’s because the free range chicken is fed a diet higher in greens, which contain xanthophylls, which make yolks that darker orange. It’s important to keep in mind that a darker egg yolk doesn’t mean it’s healthier for you, it means the hen is fed a balanced and healthy diet. However, according to Cambridge University, free range eggs are higher in Omega 3’s than a caged hen’s egg, almost twice as much, as well as being twice as high in vitamin E! For taste, the fresh eggs have a richer, more flavorful taste while the yolks are thicker. The store-bought seemed to have an almost salty after-taste, as well as being more rubbery and MUCH paler. For example, when both eggs were scrambled separately, it was easy to see that the fresh egg was much darker, and my girls don’t even free-range daily!
- Egg whites: When I cracked a store-bought egg into a bowl the other week, I noticed that the white surrounding the yolk fell flat and spread out. This really sparked curiosity, so I cracked another into the frying pan and noticed the egg immediately went flat and filled the pan. I then cracked a fresh egg into a bowl and noticed the whites were raised and seemed to hold a shape. Prior to research, I thought that since commercial egg producing companies are required by law to wash their eggs in a cleaning solution, removing the natural bloom on the eggshell, which reduces the eggs “shelf-life” and allows for oxygen to enter the egg and break it down. There wasn’t much findings after research, but I did find one article written by Safe Bee, sourcing Don Schaffner, PhD, a food scientist at Rutgers the State University of New Jersey. It says that an older egg’s whites will spread because it’s a “chemical, physical change in the egg.” As I said, I believe the whites spread like this because the oxygen was able to enter the egg through the shell’s pores after the bloom was washed off, causing the protein bonds in the whites to break down, overall causing the egg whites to fall.
The final step in this unscientific study was the blind taste test, which basically consisted of three trials of scrambled, omelette, and fried eggs. It was easiest to taste the difference in the scrambled eggs and fried eggs. I really noticed for the first time that the egg yolks in the fresh eggs were significantly richer, the flavor lasted longer, and they had a thicker texture. The store-bought eggs also seemed to have a ‘salty’ aftertaste; they seemed to be more tangy tasting vs. rich. All in all, I really began to realize why people really have chickens, besides the fact that they make amazing pets!
For a little conclusion to this “experiment,” fresh eggs REALLY do have a better taste, contain more nutrients, and have a better appearance overall. Not only that, but I like knowing where a lot of my food comes from, so knowing my eggs come from happy, healthy hens makes a difference, and the difference really was apparent in the eggs. It’s important to remember that just because the egg carton is labeled “cage free” doesn’t necessarily mean the eggs come from hens who roam the fields eating clovers and grasses all day (sometimes smaller egg producers will do this, however!), sometimes it simply means the hens are in a barn without a cage eating feed that is high in xanthophylls to make their egg yolks orange. Kind of cheating the system if you ask me…
I hope this inspires you to get chickens if you haven’t already, and maybe to conduct a little experiment yourself! It really is the little things like this that make you appreciate fresh eggs more than you may thought, it sure did for me! I also hope you were able to learn a little something from this research project. It was super fun to do, and I would love to test other things as well. Head on over to my Instagram @dancingwchickens to send me your ideas on the next project I should do, I’d love to hear it!
Dancing with Chickens