Ingredient Introduction #41 – Eggs from the Farm

I feel like I’ve been duped.

I mean, maybe I agreed to sit on some couch and watch a pretty crystal swing back and forth until I was in some sort of a daze.

Or, did I drink some powder-based liquid marketed by a face plastered on a giant pitcher that busts through brick walls?

Whatever the method, I was somehow brain-washed into buying only what a good ol’ grocery store’s refrigerated section could offer me. I assumed that was the cream of the crop.

I’ve always used the traditional, wax-wrapped sticks of butter. I haven’t even been brand-specific. I would get what’s on sale. Although, I do only buy unsalted butter.

Then came butter from The Happy Cow Creamery, a dairy that’s a within driving distance of my house.

I saw it at The Fresh Market. It was a big, nearly foot long, brick of butter. It was wrapped in wax paper, and sold for $9.99. I couldn’t get past the price. But, it ate at me. Could it be worth it? Twitter friends said yes. So, we got it. And then there was no turning back. It was creamy, rich, and silky.

The real, fresh, locally-made stuff is better. No ifs, ands, or butters about it.

Now I know the same is true with eggs.

For so long I’ve done the supermarket scavenger hunt, scouring cartons upon cartons of eggs, looking for the bad one. I always passed up the omega-3 eggs and the fancy-schmancy brown ones, convincing myself that they weren’t better.

But, the more I went to the farmers’ market, the more I’d start seeing eggs for sale. I never gave them a second thought.

There’s a farm near my house. It has a little cooler with cartons of fresh eggs waiting for a buyer. I kept driving.

Curiosity finally got the best of me at the farmers market and I started paying closer attention to the eggs. I’d watch the farmer show off the dozen to an eager buyer. The eggs were gorgeous. Some were speckled, some were brown, others were white. Then, I heard the price – $5.00! It couldn’t be. Five dollars for the same thing I’d pay less than $2.00 for at the grocery store? Please.

It continued to eat at me. Are they worth it? Will I notice a difference?

I gave in to curiosity and bought some farm fresh eggs. Truth be told, I did it because I found a farmer selling a half dozen for $2.50.

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When the farmer heard that this was my first time getting the farm fresh variety, she said she wished she could be there to see my face when I ate them. That’s saying something.

They were gorgeous.

Six jumbo brown eggs just sitting there as if they belonged on a shelf in a Cracker Barrel near you.

I wanted to do them justice and celebrate them. No curds or custards. No soufflés. No benedicts.

I cooked them just as I do any eggs.

The first thing I noticed was the strength of the shell. It was tough, none of this paper-thin crap you get from the commercial variety.

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The yolks were big, bright, and strong. They stood high, like a domed arena towering above its surroundings.

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Apparently these are winter eggs, so the yolks aren’t as vivid an orange as they would be in the summer when there’s more grass for the hens to eat.

In terms of flavor, these eggs tasted a bit more pure and rich than the average variety. The whites were luscious, and fluffy. The yolk was velvety and rich. It wasn’t watery or runny, like the commercial kind.

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The second time I made them, I did two of the farm fresh (right) and two of the supermarket special (left).

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The biggest difference (aside from the size – large vs. jumbo), was the yolk. The farm egg was brighter, more orange, and more intense. It was higher than the store-bought egg yolks, which stood high enough to barely resemble the bubbles on bubble wrap.

I’ve been converted.

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I feel healthier eating these eggs. I know the hens weren’t fed chemicals or steroids. They got to eat what their instincts suggested, and you can’t get any more natural than that. The nutrients they take in go to me.

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This batch came from Limestone Farms, which promotes the ability its hens have to freely range from grass to clover, to locally-milled custom feed, to bugs and worms. I’ve since gotten another batch from them. This farm wasn’t there during my most recent trip to the farmers’ market, so I bought a dozen from Thicketty Mountain Farms. These were white. Now that the farmers’ market is done for the season, I have to track down these good eggs!

I’ll use the fresh ones for breakfast and stick to the store-bought stuff for dishes in which the eggs aren’t the star. That’s how I treat the butter. The local butter for bread, baked potatoes and vegetables, and the store-bought sticks for baking and greasing pans.

Do you use farm-fresh eggs? In what ways?

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I’m telling you, it’s so funny that the simplest of ingredients are the most complex. The origin of the ingredient makes all the difference. This isn’t about brands.

I feel like I’ve only paid attention to the big plume of hot air squawking about how it’s the great and powerful, the end-all be-all. I should’ve been looking for the man behind the curtain. The real deal. No bells. No whistles. No labels. Just good stuff.

Tip: Salt your eggs while they’re cooking. And when possible, cook them in bacon or sausage fat. Added flavor.

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