My mother-in-law just blessed me with some fresh eggs from her chickens, and remembering how I was surprised by them the first time I ever had fresh eggs I thought I’d share my thoughts with you.
First of all, if you are like me and always wondered about how exactly chickens and eggs work, and how to know when there is a chick inside and all that, you really need to check out my post on the subject. Boy, did I have it all wrong!
Lots of people – my old self included – would argue that “eggs are just eggs.” There isn’t much of a difference between eggs raised on a commercial farm and those raised in a smaller, more eco-friendly fashion.
However, “farm fresh eggs” (or really, any eggs that are laid by chickens not being raised in confinement factory farms, for the sake of this article) are actually quite different than store-bought eggs.
Here are some of the biggest differences.
Egg Size and Color
Okay, on to the eggs. The first time that my father-in-law ever plopped a fresh egg into my hand I was really surprised at how tiny it was!
It was a little smaller than a golf ball. But then he showed me another egg, from a different kind of chicken, and it was much bigger… but brown, which was different to me too.
Since then I’ve learned that different kinds of chickens lay different sizes and colors of eggs.
The tiny, white eggs are from Bantams…
The big, brown eggs are from Rhode Island Reds…
And there are even blue and green colored eggs that come from Araucanas.
Some people assume that only brown eggs come from backyard hens. However, that’s not the case. Backyard hens can also lay white eggs – it just depends on the breed.
Ultimately, the shell color or egg size don’t matter much – they don’t change what’s inside of the egg. Just because you see brown eggs in stores doesn’t mean they are any better for you than the white ones!
Shell and Yolk Differences
When I first cracked a fresh egg, right away I noticed how much tougher the shell was. It did not crack as easily as a store bought egg shell does.
The yolk was darker too. A nice, golden yellow/orange color.
Since I just happened to have a couple of different types of eggs in my fridge, I thought it would be fun to do a taste test.
For size comparison I put them together for you to see. The huge white one is store-bought; the other two are fresh:
Here is how they looked cracked. It’s hard to tell by looking at the picture, but the two fresh egg yolks are a couple shades darker yellow than the other. The egg whites are clearer too.
The feed quality plays a role in this. Just as with humans, your own health is only as good as what you put into your body. Chickens that are raised in a small-scale setting are usually feed with food sources that are of a higher quality than are chickens who are raised in confinement farms.
Farm fresh chickens, especially those that are raised on pasture or allowed to free range, spend their days outside, absorbing vitamin D. That translates to a much better tasting egg – and a much fresher egg, too. This is also why you will find that the shells are much firmer and harder to crack.
Also, the eggs that you buy in the store aren’t as fresh as those that you get directly from the farm. While that probably seems obvious, the reality is that store-bought eggs can be as much as eight months old by the time they hit the shelves!
Not only is that kind of a gross thing to realize, but it also means that the eggs lose a lot of their flavor and nutritional value in the process
Next I scrambled them up for a taste comparison:
As you can see, the fresh eggs turned out a nicer yellow than the store bought.
Honestly, I was afraid that I wasn’t going to be able to tell a difference in taste… that would have kinda spoiled the theory that fresh tastes better, huh? Well, I’m happy to report that I could taste a difference.
The two farm fresh eggs did taste the same, but compared to the store bought, they were much better; richer tasting, yummier.
You might not always notice a huge difference in taste between farm fresh and storebought eggs, but you’ll almost always notice a difference in texture. Store-bought egg yolks tend to be weaker and easier to break, while those from farm fresh eggs are thick and rich.
I will mention that there is one “disadvantage” to using farm fresh eggs, if you can call them that. Since the yolks and whites of a farm fresh egg tend to be firmer, and the membrane of the egg is strong, fresh eggs are easier to separate but also harder to peel when they are boiled. The longer the egg sits, the more the membrane will separate from the shell.
However, to get around this and boil farm fresh eggs, you just need to steam them. Use eggs that have been sitting for a week or so and then steam for up to fifteen minutes (a bit less depending on how firm you like the yolks).
One of the biggest benefits of buying farm fresh eggs is that you will know exactly how they were raised and produced. Unfortunately, most industrial egg farms keep chickens in tiny cages for their entire lives. Hens are never given the opportunity to go outside and they barely even have enough room to turn around!
Lots of egg producers have attempted to find ways to rid themselves of this “bad rap” over the years. You’ll find that commercial eggs are often now slapped with labels like “cage-free” and even “vegetarian,” all to help make you feel better about where your eggs are coming from.
However, even these eggs are still laid by chickens were raised in barns and had very little room to move around. Cage-free doesn’t mean the same as pasture-raised or free-range – it just means there was no cage.
Chickens lay healthier, better-tasting eggs when they are able to forage for themselves and engage in “regular” chicken activities, like roosting, dust bathing, and molting. If you invest your money and energy in buying only farm fresh eggs, you’ll be able to talk directly to the farmer who raise the chickens to learn more about how the chickens were raised.
Another benefit of farm fresh eggs is in the name itself – fresh. Farm fresh eggs tend to be a lot fresher than the eggs of chickens raised in confinement barn. As I mentioned, most eggs can take a minimum of three days to reach the store – and can sit on the shelf for several months. While farm fresh eggs can easily sit out on the countertop for weeks as long as they are unwashed, washed and refrigerated eggs have a shelf life of only a few weeks.
Do the math, and you’ll realize that your store-bought eggs are practically expired already by the time you get them home!
There are multiple studies proving that farm fresh eggs are more nutritious than their store-bought counterparts. Not only do farm fresh eggs tend to have less saturated fat and cholesterol, but they tend to be higher in omega-3 fatty acids along with vitamins A, D, E, and beta-carotene.
Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, are essential for your day-to-day functioning. They can prevent several chronic diseases, too. Farm fresh eggs are higher in omega-3 fatty acids because chickens are able to eat foods like leafy greens, flowers, and bugs – all foods that are natural for a chicken to eat and are usually not found in the diets of caged hens.
Vitamin D is another nutrient that is found in farm fresh eggs. Unfortunately, many people in the United States suffer from vitamin D deficiencies. Pasture-raised eggs are some of the best sources of vitamin D you will find – the same is not true of eggs laid by cage-raised hens.
When it comes to cholesterol, the sad reality is that both “backyard” and cage-raised eggs have some (though, as I mentioned, farm fresh eggs have less). However, most of the cholesterol found in eggs is good cholesterol, which doesn’t cause nearly as many health problems as bad cholesterol. It’s an important part of our diets, in fact, helping to maintain levels of phosphorous and calcium.
So, if you ever get a chance to try farm fresh eggs, you won’t be disappointed.
updated 06/05/2020 by Rebekah Pierce
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.