Eggs are high in protein, balanced in nutrition, low in cost, and readily available throughout most of the world. This makes them a popular food to  start the day.

Following are a few things you should keep in mind when you buy and cook with eggs.

How to Buy Eggs

Eggs are graded by the USDA as they’re pack- aged for sale. This grading system tells you the
quality of the eggs at the time of packaging. Keep in mind these grades may change based on how  long it takes the eggs to get to market, and at  what temperature range they’re kept.

Grade AA – These have a firm yolk and the white  stands tall when broken onto a flat surface. The  yolk is centered in the shell and the air pocket is very small.

Grade A – The yolk starts to flatten when cracked onto a flat surface. The white of the egg slowly  spreads out. In the shell, the air pocket is a little  larger than Grade AA.

Grade B – The yolk is loose and breaks easily.  The white is watery when broken onto a flat
surface. In the shell, the air pocket is large enough that the uncracked egg will float when placed in  cold water.

basic eggs

Egg Sizes

Eggs are graded by size based on the weight of  the egg without the shell.

Peewee 1.25 oz. (35.5g)
Small 1.5 oz. (42.5g)
Medium 1.75 oz. (49.5g)
Large 2 oz. (56.5g)
Extra Large 2.25 oz. (63.5g)
Jumbo 2.5 oz. (70.5g)

The standard size of an egg is Large. This size is a 2-oz. (56.5g) egg, and the yolk and white are each nearly 1 oz. (28.5g). This is the standard by which recipes are written. For baking, in particular, you want to make sure you’re buying only large eggs.

The USDA grades eggs based on the quality at packaging time. The date of grading is printed on
the egg carton. When you purchase eggs, look for Grade AA eggs that are less than two weeks from inspection. The next best choice is Grade A eggs that are less than one week old.

Also look to see how the eggs are stored. Fresh eggs should be kept in a cooler that maintains a
temperature of 32° to 39°F (0° to 3.9°C). For each day the egg is kept at room temperature, an equiv-alent of one week of aging of a cold egg occurs.

The biggest factor in the flavor of an egg is how the chicken is kept. For the highest-quality eggs, chickens should live in an outdoor coop that’s moved regularly, which gives the chickens the opportunity to peck at the ground. By eating worms and insects, chickens produce eggs with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids. These “good acids” produce orange color in the yolk and a much richer flavor, overall. The best place to find these eggs is your local farmers market.

Brown Eggs or White?
Many people pay a premium for eggs with brown shells. The popular  belief is that brown eggs have better flavor or are more nutritious.  But the color of the shell is determined by the breed of the chicken,  and doesn’t affect the nutritional quality of the egg.

Refrigerating Eggs

Eggs should be stored in a cold part of your refrigerator, but not on the door. The door tends to be the warmest area because warm air enters every time it’s opened. Many appliance manufacturers put egg cradles in the doors, but this is not ideal. Eggs should be stored in the carton they’re purchased in and on the top shelf of the refrigerator.

Safety Tips

There are a few food safety concerns you must consider when you use eggs. Check the date of
inspection on the carton, and use the eggs within four to five weeks of the packaging date. Before using an egg, look for cracks and discard any cracked eggs immediately.

Because eggs contain so many nutrients, bacteria can grow quickly. You must treat eggs as a
potentially hazardous food and wash your hands before and after handling them. Also, eggs should be cooked higher than 139°F (59.5°C). Consume cooked egg products within one hour, or chill below 35°F (1.6°C).

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