Saturday, April 19, 2008
Eggs: Store-bought vs. Farm Fresh
I can't look away from a good duke-it-out, winner-takes-all, side-by-side comparison story. Whether it's food or cars or shoes, I have to find out who's the champion and who's the chump.
So when I came back from my recent foray to the Fairview Farmers' Market with a dozen fresh eggs from Debra Blake's Show-off Farm chickens, I knew I had my own little (un-)cage match to conduct. Now, our usual eggs come from cage-free hens fom Steibrs Farms that are fed a vegetarian diet and are "certified humane," so they're pretty good on the eggs-as-corporate-commodity scale. Debra's eggs come from various breeds and are tinted in amazing colors from pale brown to brick red to ochre and are allowed to range free and eat everything from worms to seeds to bugs.
With Dave as co-taster, I decided to scramble the eggs in margarine in a non-stick pan, adding only a bit of kosher salt. The first difference was color, with the Steibrs eggs a paler yellow than the Show-off eggs, which also had much larger yolks. The scrambling made this difference even more noticeable, with the Show-off eggs turning almost orange in the pan.
And once they came off the flame? Again, a noticeable color difference, but the texture was the big surprise. The curds of the regular eggs were smaller and finer, with an almost grainy texture, while the farm eggs were creamy and smooth. The taste of the Steibrs eggs was clean and had a nice subtly eggy flavor, but the Show-off eggs had a richer, deeper flavor with more "spark," according to Dave.
If nothing else it was an informative, fun experiment for a Saturday morning. And, like good gin, I'll save the farm eggs for special occasions where it's important for the flavor of the eggs to shine and use the others for everyday preparations.
An additional note: After reading this post, my friend and urban chicken-farmer, Lindsey, gave me three gorgeous eggs from her girls. Once again, a simple scramble with butter and salt and I had a luscious, eggy-tasting, dreamy, creamy little breakfast. Walker was quite jealous.
The eggs (note the dates!)