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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Eggs

Even though the price of eggs has increased, they remain a frugal source of dietary protein.  They are quick and easy to cook as well as being quite versatile.  Eons ago when I was in high school it was mandatory for all female students to take two courses in Home Economics.  While I detested the teacher with a passion due to very inappropriate comments that would never be tolerated in any school system today, I learned a lot from those two courses.  To this day, my kitchen is very much organized the way the HomeEc kitchens were, into specific work zones.  This maximizes how a kitchen functions regardless of how small it is and believe me I have cooked in some not small but tiny kitchens!  One of the most valuable lessons learned was this teacher insisted that any time you crack open an egg it is to be done in a separate bowl.  If cracking more than one egg, she told us to use two bowls - one to crack the egg into then pour the cracked egg into another bowl and continue this way until all the eggs were cracked.

contaminated egg
I buy my eggs from a couple of farmers who have free range chickens whenever possible.  I also buy eggs at the grocery store when I have to.  Many home cooks are quite complacent when it comes to cracking eggs.  There is the fallacy that if it comes from a grocery store it is safe.  Wrong!  If it comes from a grocery store, any food has been handled a multitude of times, has been exposed to numerous contaminants including insects and rodents and possible unsafe temperatures during transportation to the store.  That is why all fruits and vegetables should be washed before consuming and all lids on commercially canned foods washed before opening.

I have seen many interesting sights when cracking eggs but never have seen contamination like I found in the pictured store bought egg.  Had I simply cracked the egg into the other ingredients I would not have seen the contamination until it was too late, thus wasting all the ingredients.  I don't know what the contamination was although I can make an educated speculation based on my scientific background.  Four more eggs in that dozen were contaminated as well so I ended up tossing the entire dozen.  I was ticked but it would have been worse had I boiled them for deviled eggs or egg salad! 

An egg is the biological unfertilized portion of what would become a baby chicken if fertilized.  When buying eggs from a farmer it is common to see blood spots (harmless), double yolks (lucky according to legend), and occasionally a fertilized egg with the embryo in some stage of development.  These artifacts are less likely to occur in store bought eggs as they are screened to remove these particular artifacts.  Egg shells protect the egg or developing embryo.  Despite their look, they are porous allowing oxygen to reach the developing embryo.  They have a natural antibiotic coating to help protect the developing embryo which helps to keep unfertilized eggs (the ones we eat) fresh.  This is why eggs should not be washed before storing in the refrigerator.  The egg shell can be compromised in many ways such as environmental exposure  of the laying hen to a damaging chemical, a genetic condition in the laying hen that results in a weaker egg shell, or it can be damaged during the grading a packaging process.  In addition to the egg shell being compromised, it can also be contaminated with Salmonella that can give you a nasty case of food born illness.  I do mean nasty!  I accidently contaminated myself with Salmonella in the lab; it was a horrid experience but valuable lesson.   This is why an egg should always be cracked into a separate bowl, checked for any problems then poured into another bowl or added to the other ingredients.  Never crack an egg directly into a fry pan or other ingredients!


1 food lovers commented:

LindaG said...

We've been lucky. We've never found more than old eggs in store bought eggs.

But I still look forward to having our own chickens some day.
I always crack eggs in a separate dish simply to minimize egg shell contamination. :)