A hen lays only one egg a day, so imagine all the birds required to produce the 72 billion eggs Americans consume each year. Cluck, cluck!
No wonder eggs are so popular: They pack a powerful nutritional punch. The yolk naturally contains zinc and vitamins D, E and A. The white (called the albumen) is rich in protein, riboflavin, magnesium, potassium, sodium, sulfur and niacin.
Some things you need to know:
Are they fresh? All USDA inspected eggs require packing dates and plant numbers. But they could be confusing since about 15 states have their own egg safety regulations.
Expiration dates or sell-buy date: these dates extend no longer than 30 days from when the eggs were packed. Typically eggs will stay fresh 10-15 days after this date if properly stored.
Use-by or best before date: these dates are typically 45 days from packing.
Packing date: the day of the year (example: 12/26/10) would show "360") that the eggs were packed in the carton, usually within one week of egg laying.
When cracked, the egg's color is also a good indication of freshness and safety. Clear egg whites are from older, but safe eggs; pinkish egg whites mean the egg is spoiled and a cloudy egg white means it is VERY fresh. Blood spots in egg yolks are safe, but best bet is to remove them before cooking for eye appeal.
One of the best ways to tell if an egg you have at home is fresh is to see if it floats: fresh eggs will sink, while older eggs float. As an egg ages, air is absorbed though the shell and it loses water and carbon dioxide through the pores making it lighter.
More on eggs. Egg size reflects the age of the hen: the older the hen the larger the egg. The breed, the weight, and conditions where they're raised can also contribute to size. Conditions can involve heat, stress, overcrowding, or poor nutrition. Extra Large, Large and Medium are the most common, but there are also Jumbo, Small, and Peewee. Egg grades are about ratio and quality of white to yolk; they are AA, A, and B. Grades AA and A have thicker whites and firm round yolks than B Grade eggs.
The voluntary USDA grading program, regulates, creates standards, grades, and classifies eggs based on weight for quality and price relationship to enable more orderly marketing. Egg grades do not necessarily mean that eggs are “contaminant free” but that they are paying a fair price in accordance with the official identification.Thanks Phil Lempert!
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