If you’re ever at the grocery store wondering how old the eggs really are in the dairy section, Lisa Steele has a tip. Find the secret number.
Printed on one end of each carton you will find a three digit number from 001 to 365, which represents the packing date. No. 001 refers to January 1, while No. 365 refers to December 31.
“It’s very sneaky the way they do it because they really don’t want you to know how old the eggs are,” says Steele from her home in Maine, where she raises more than a dozen chickens, 10 ducks and two geese. “I just imagine people all over grocery stores now checking the egg carton code.”
From his popular Fresh Eggs Daily blog, Steele dispenses many similar tips on egg handling and raising chickens. So this month, she’s delivering a natural extension: a cookbook that features the adaptable egg, “The Fresh Eggs Daily Cookbook,” from Harper Horizon, an imprint of HarperCollins.
“I don’t know if anyone else who raises chickens has written a cookbook about eggs,” Steele says. “I have a different perspective and obviously a lot of eggs.”
Recipes include dishes from breakfast to dessert, including sweet potato sausage frittata, deviled eggs with avocado oil and sage, bacon and beetroot hash, ravioli with egg yolk and angel food cake – plus a sour lime bourbon to wash them down.
Steele notes that the humble egg is very versatile and an inexpensive way to get protein while cutting down on red meat consumption. It’s not just for breakfast.
“I think people get into a rut with scrambled, fried, maybe hard-boiled eggs — you forget about all the other things you can do with eggs,” she says. “They are almost like two ingredients because a yolk is completely different from a white. You can use them together. You can use them separately.
Some of the most innovative recipes in the book include bacon and egg pizza with scallions and garlic that you can reheat for breakfast, and egg and lemon soup, which uses chicken broth. and rice.
“A fresh egg from a hen that’s eaten bugs and weeds and everything tastes really good on its own,” she says. “But it’s also super neutral, so you can pair it with different spices, or different herbs, or different cheeses and come up with a completely different meal.”
Steele credits her husband in acknowledgments for “eating way too many eggs on demand” during testing. While perfecting her mini soufflés, she once made 18 in one day until she was satisfied with the recipe. “The chickens ate a lot of souffle that day because they had all the disasters,” she says.
Freshness is important because egg whites thin out as an egg ages, making poaching and frying more difficult. But eggs are also resilient: refrigerated eggs can remain safe to eat with little reduction in nutritional value for three to four months or more. In addition to the secret number on the carton, there are two other good tests for freshness: if you shake an egg and the inside slaps, it’s old. And a fresh egg will sink to the bottom of a glass of water.
Steele also guides readers through the maze of categories that egg makers use on their cartons, such as “cage-free”, “pasture-raised”, “organic” and “hormone-free”. (Ignore “all natural” as a marketing ploy, while “hormone-free” and “antibiotic-free” make next to no sense, she says.)
“Honestly, I think everyone should raise their own chickens. But, other than that, finding a farmers market or a local farm or a neighbor or someone who raises chickens is your next best bet,” she says. If that’s not possible, she says, look for “certified cruelty-free farms,” which means the chickens are outside every day for hours on grass or other forage with plenty of room. to move.
“It’s a bit more expensive, but I don’t think it’s going to break anyone’s wallet to pay, say, $4 or $5 for a dozen eggs instead of $3 or $2.50 $ or something like that. You’re not talking huge dollars here,” she said. “There are definitely choices when it comes to eggs, and I think they are important.”