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May is national egg month. So I thought I would bring you some egg facts courtesy of the American Egg Board and a couple of tasty recipes.
Blood spots, also called meat spots are occasionally found on an egg yolk. Contrary to popular opinion, these tiny spots do not indicate a fertilized egg. Rather, they are caused by the rupture of a blood vessel on the yolk surface during formation of the egg. As an egg ages, the yolk takes up water from the albumen to dilute the blood spot so, in actuality, a blood spot indicates that the egg is fresh. Both chemically and nutritionally, these eggs are fit to eat. The spot can be removed with the tip of a knife, if you wish.
Egg shell and yolk color may vary, but color has nothing to do with egg quality, flavor, nutritive value, cooking characteristics or shell thickness.
Shell:The color comes from pigments in the outer layer of the shell and may range in various breeds from white to deep brown. The breed of hen determines the color of the shell. Breeds with white feathers and ear lobes lay white eggs; breeds with red feathers and ear lobes lay brown eggs. White eggs are most in demand among American buyers. In some parts of the country, however, particularly in New England, brown shells are preferred. The Rhode Island Red, New Hampshire and Plymouth Rock are breeds that lay brown eggs. Since brown-egg layers are slightly larger birds and require more food, brown eggs are usually more expensive than white.
White:Egg albumen in raw eggs is opalescent and does not appear white until it is beaten or cooked. A yellow or greenish cast in raw white may indicate the presence of riboflavin. Cloudiness of the raw white is due to the presence of carbon dioxide which has not had time to escape through the shell and thus indicates a very fresh egg.
Yolk: Yolk color depends on the diet of the hen. If she gets plenty of yellow-orange plant pigments known as xanthophylls, they will be deposited in the yolk. Hens fed mashes containing yellow corn and alfalfa meal lay eggs with medium yellow yolks, while those eating wheat or barley yield lighter-colored yolks. A colorless diet, such as white cornmeal produces almost colorless yolks. Natural yellow-orange substances such as marigold petals may be added to light-colored feeds to enhance yolk color. Artificial color additives are not permitted. Gold or lemon-colored yolks are preferred by most buyers in this country. Yolk pigments are relatively stable and are not lost or changed in cooking.
How recently an egg was laid has a bearing on its freshness but is only one of many factors. The temperature at which it is held, the humidity and the handling all play their part. These variables are so important that an egg one week old, held under ideal conditions, can be fresher than an egg left at room temperature for one day. The ideal conditions are temperatures that don't go above 40°F. (4°C.) and a relative humidity of 70 to 80%.
Proper handling means prompt gathering, washing and oiling of the eggs within a few hours after laying. Most commercially produced eggs reach supermarkets within a few days of leaving the laying house. If the market and the buyer handle them properly, they will still be fresh when they reach the table.
It is not true that freshness can be judged by placing an egg in salt water. A carefully controlled brine test is sometimes used to judge shell thickness of eggs for hatching purposes but has no application to freshness of table eggs.
How important is "freshness"? As an egg ages, the white becomes thinner and the yolk becomes flatter. These changes do not have any great effect on the nutritional quality of the egg or its functional cooking properties in recipes. Appearance may be affected, though. When poached or fried, the fresher the egg, the more it will hold its shape rather than spread out in the pan. On the other hand, if you hard cook eggs that are at least a week old, you'll find them easier to peel after cooking and cooling than fresher eggs.
Classification determined by interior and exterior quality and designated by letters - AA, A and B. In many egg packing plants, the USDA provides a grading service for shell eggs. Its official grade shield certifies that the eggs have been graded under federal supervision according to USDA standards and regulations. The grading service is not mandatory. Other eggs are packed under state regulations which must meet or exceed federal standards.
In the grading process, eggs are examined for both interior and exterior quality and are sorted according to weight (size). Grade quality and size are not related to one another. In descending order of quality, grades are AA, A and B.
There is no difference in nutritive value between the different grades.
A 'Grade AA' egg will stand up tall. The yolk is firm and the area covered by the white is small. There is a large proportion of thick white to thin white.
A 'Grade A' egg covers a relatively small area. The yolk is round and upstanding. The thick white is large in proportion to the thin white and stands fairly well around the yolk.
A 'Grade B' egg spreads out more. The yolk is flattened and there is about as much (or more) thin white as thick white.
2 pounds ground beef
2 envelopes taco seasoning mix
3/4 cup milk
1 1/4 cups biscuit mix
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup sour cream
3 cups chopped lettuce
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 (2-ounce) can sliced ripe olives, drained
In a skillet, brown beef; drain. Add taco seasoning and prepare according to package directions. Spoon meat into a greased 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan.
In a bowl, beat eggs and milk. Add biscuit mix and pepper; mix well. Pour over meat.
Bake, uncovered, at 400*F for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Spread sour cream over the top; sprinkle with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cheese and olives. Serve immediately.
Makes 8 servings.
Vegetable Eggs Supreme
3/4 cup milk
1/2 lb. cheese, shredded
2 cups chopped cooked broccoli
1 cup sliced mushrooms
Salt & pepper to taste
Beat eggs, add milk & beat together. Pour mixture into greased crockpot. Add cheese, broccoli, mushrooms, salt & pepper. Cook on HIGH 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours.
For more egg information including recipes visit The American Egg Board website at http://www.aeb.org.