10 Fantastic Facts About Eggs
From starting salmonella scares to acting as a drug-addled brain, from sparking factory-farming concerns to causing worry about high cholesterol, the humble egg can get a bad rap. But these little guys also serve as the glue to make great baked goods, provide a lot of nutrition for a low cost, and can serve as the basis for a whole host of delicious meals. (See also: Egg-cellent Ideas for Money Saving and Menu Planning)
Here are 10 things you might not know about this frugal food:
1. Chicken Eggs Come in More Colors Than White and Brown
Different breeds of chickens produce different colors of eggs. In addition to the typical white and brown, some chickens produce blue, blue-green, reddish-brown, or even speckled eggs. A great place to look for atypical egg colors is at your local farmers market; one vendor at my market sells a dozen eggs in a mix of blue, white, cream, and brown.
2. You Can Use Water to Easily Determine the Age of an Egg
If you have eggs of questionable freshness, fill a bowl with enough water to cover the eggs, then add them to the bowl. If an egg sinks to the bottom, it's fresh. If it floats to the top, it's not. This happens because as an egg ages, it develops a larger and larger air pocket in its shell. According to The Oxford Companion to Food, it's actually better to choose a less-fresh egg if you're hard-boiling it, because in fresh eggs "the white adheres closely to the shell, making it more difficult to remove the latter."
3. Eggs Are a Great Hangover Cure
As you can see from Paul's list of hangover cures, eating eggs is a great way to help shake off the previous evening's festivities.
4. Raw Eggs Can Make Delicious — and Safe — Food and Drinks
Classic recipes for mayonnaise, caesar salad dressing, lemon curd, and several cocktails include raw eggs. While salmonella is certainly a concern in using raw eggs or other raw animal products, you can reduce your risk by using the freshest eggs possible (ideally locally produced) or purchasing pasturized eggs.
5. Chickens Aren't the Only Birds That Lay Edible Eggs
Duck, quail, emu, goose, and ostrich eggs can all be cooked up.
6. What Eggs You Buy Can Be a Very Personal Decision
Eggs tend to be a battleground food, with lots of conflicting information available about which eggs are best for you, your budget, the chickens, and the environment. For more information about choosing the eggs that are right for you, check out Carrie's post about egg angst at the supermarket or Philip's post on "real" eggs.
7. You Can Make Your Eggs Cube-Shaped
Somebody invented a product that presses hard-boiled eggs into cubes. I suppose this would be useful if, um, you really, really needed to stack your hard-boiled eggs.
8. Eggshells Are Useful!
9. Preserved Eggs Known as "Century Eggs" Are a Chinese Delicacy
According Anne Marie Helmenstine, About.com's guide to chemistry, these dark-colored preserved eggs "are made by storing raw eggs for a few months in a mixture of wood ash, salt, lime, and maybe tea with rice straw or clay." But they are not, as has often been rumored, preserved in horse urine. I actually ate a century egg once as part of an eating contest. I wish I could tell you what it tasted like, but my previous feat had been to eat two massive hot peppers, and they utterly destroyed my sense of taste for the next half hour.
10. There Are Hundreds, If Not Thousands, Ways to Prepare Eggs
Just check out the 1898 book Eggs, and How to Use Them, available for free on Google Books, which boasts over 500 recipes.
Do you have a favorite egg fact — or a favorite way to prepare eggs? What kind of eggs do you buy? Share your thoughts in the comments.