by Janet Spencer

• The word “yolk” derives from an Old English word for “yellow”. Therefore, there’s the “egg white” and the “egg yellow.” Come along with Tidbits as we eat eggs!

EGG FACTS

• Both the egg white and egg yolk contain 3 grams of protein each.    While a single yolk contains 3 grams of protein and has 60 calories, a single egg white provides 3 grams of protein with just 15 calories.

• Eggshells are porous, allowing air to move through them. As eggs age, they take in air and develop an air pocket. In general, you can test an egg’s freshness by placing it in a cup of water. If the egg floats, it indicates the egg is old and has a large air pocket. If it sinks, it’s a much fresher egg.

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• Eggs come with a “sell by” date, but not an expiration date. A dozen eggs in the fridge will generally last three to five weeks past the “sell by” date.

• To tell the difference between a raw egg and a hard-boiled egg, spin it. Hard boilded eggs spin easily because they are solid, while raw eggs wobble because they are liquid.

• Before hard-boiling eggs, pierce the rounded end with a needle. The shells will not crack and peeling will be easier.

• The world’s largest omelet weighed 14,225 lb (6,452 kg) and was made in Portugal in 2012. It took 55 people six hours to make this omelet, using 145,000 eggs, 880 lbs of oil and 220 lbs of butter. All eggs used were free range and donated by the largest egg producer in the country.

• The Guinness World Record for making ordinary omelets is held by Howard Helmer, a chef in New York City, who made 427 omelets in 30 minutes in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1990. He also holds the world record for fastest omelet flipper. Helmer served for many years as a spokesperson for the American Egg Board.

• In a test at the University of Texas, rats were fed one food only in an effort to find out which are the best foods, and which are the worst. Two-thirds of the rats who were fed only white bread died after 90 days. Rats fared little better when fed only peanuts, hot dogs, hamburger, shredded wheat, or macaroni. They lived somewhat longer on tuna or milk. The best single food was egg. Rats eating only eggs lived indefinitely.

• There are more chickens in the world than any other bird.

• A mother hen will turn her eggs over about 50 times per day to prevent the yolk from sticking to the sides of the shell.

• How often does a hen lay an egg? The entire time from ovulation to laying is about 25 hours. Then, about 30 minutes later, the hen will begin to make another one.

• Older hens tend to lay bigger eggs, but double-yolked eggs are produced by younger hens whose egg production cycles are not yet synchronized.

• On average, each laying hen produces 296 eggs per year. In the 1930s, the average American hen laid 121 eggs per year.

• The world record for egg-laying by a chicken is held by a white leghorn in Sri Lanka, who laid 17 eggs in six hours in 1967. Another record was set by a white leghorn who laid 371 eggs in 364 days.

• A 6-month-old British pullet named Harriet    has held the record for the world’s largest chicken egg since she laid it in 2010. It was 9.1 in. (23 cm) in diameter and 4.5 in (11 cm) long, which is nearly triple the size of an extra large egg. She broke her own previous record.

• Iowa leads the nation with more than 15 billion eggs produced annually. Ohio is second with 8 billion, followed by Indiana, Pennsylvania and California.

• Every year over 97 billion eggs are laid in the U.S. by over 325 million hens.   

• Three-quarters of eggs produced are used for consumption and the rest are hatched.

• Every day in the U.S. over 217 million chicken eggs are consumed. We eat chicken eggs instead of duck or turkey eggs because chickens lay more eggs while needing less nesting space. Some people claim that it’s easier to collect an egg from a chicken than a turkey or duck. However, the female turkey is one of the few birds who is perfectly capable of producing fertile eggs without benefit of a male turkey.

• During World War II when eggs were scarce, researchers in the British Isles tasted other bird eggs trying to find a successful substitute.    In blind taste tests, the hen’s egg received the highest rating, followed by a three-way tie between the coot, moorhen, and gull.    At the bottom of the list were the eggs of the warbler and wren. Quail, emu, goose and ostrich eggs can all be cooked as well.

• There are three consumer grades for eggs in the U.S.: Grade AA, A, and B. The grade is determined by the interior quality of the egg and the appearance of the egg shell. It is not determined by size or weight. Grade AA eggs have whites that are thick and firm; yolks that are high, round, and free from defects; and clean, unbroken shells. This is the best for frying or poaching where appearance is important. Grade A eggs are the same as Grade AA eggs except that the whites are firmer. Grade B eggs have whites that may be thinner and yolks that may be wider and flatter. The shells may be stained. This quality is seldom found in retail stores because they are usually used to make liquid, frozen, and dried egg products.

• Although the egg grading system does not grade eggs based on size or weight, eggs are sorted by size.

• Eggs are always placed in cartons large-end up, which helps them last longer. The bigger end contains the air pocket between the inner and outer shell membranes. This gradually enlarges as the egg loses moisture during storage. Keeping the air pocket at the top helps to keep the yolk centered within the egg and prevents the air pocket from rupturing, which reduces the risk of the egg spoiling.

• Brown eggs and white eggs are identical nutritionally. If a chicken has red ear lobes, it’s likely to be a Rhode Island Red or a Barred Plymouth Rock, and it will lay brown eggs; if the ear lobe is white, it’s usually a White Leghorn and it lays white eggs.

The color of the egg yolk is determined by the food eaten by chickens. It has nothing to do with the nutritional value of one egg over another or a commercially produced egg over a farm produced egg. A supplement of pumpkin, squash, carrots, marigold, dandelions or calendula will produce deeper yellow-orange yolks.