Season brings more abundant eggs
What's new at market these days? Eggs!
Well, there are always eggs available at the market, but last weekend I noticed that there were more eggs available than there had been in a while. I stopped and chatted with one of our egg farmers, David Spain of Spain Farm, about this. He told me that because the day length is starting to get longer, hens are starting to lay more eggs. On average, hens lay about 1 egg per day, but that number decreases when the days are shorter and there is less light. When the day length is about 14 hours per day, hens are at their most productive.
David also told me that in the spring lots of farmers start new flocks of hens. Young hens, known as pullets, start laying eggs when they are between 4 and 6 months old. Because the hens are younger and smaller, their eggs are sometimes petite. So, during the next month or so, look for small "pullet eggs". Most farmers will sell these smaller eggs by the dozen at a lower price than their large or jumbo eggs. Hens can lay eggs for a long time, but they lay the most eggs in their first two years.
Everything at the farmers' market seems to have a season. In the summer, during tomato season, there are lots of tomatoes. In the winter, it is greens. Every year in the late winter when eggs "come into season," my family tends to eat a lot more eggs than at other times of the year. We like to make hard-boiled eggs and have noticed that the super-fresh eggs that come from the market can be a little tricky to peel when hard boiled.
It is a problem that we never had when we used to buy grocery store eggs. So, I mentioned this problem to one of our farmers and he explained that it is easier to hard boil and peel older eggs. The eggs that are in the grocery store case are often a couple weeks old -- between processing, shipping and storing. Unlike grocery store eggs, eggs available at the farmers’ market were laid by the hens in the same week that you buy them and, therefore, are super fresh.
So, now we buy an extra dozen eggs and put them in the refrigerator and let them "age" for a week or so. Once the eggs get a little bit older, we no longer have any trouble peeling them.
If you have any tips or secrets to using fresh farmers’ market produce, eggs or meat, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to share them!
Erin Kauffman is market manager for the Durham Farmers' Market.