Eggs – from graded, pastured, cage-free and more – it can be confusing these days just trying to buy a carton of eggs! When I was a younger lass and went to the store to buy eggs, it was a simple chore. There was only one type of eggs! That’s just not the case anymore. Today, it would seem that you have to become a real egghead to decode and understand all the current egg ratings. While I am no expert on eggs nor nutrition, I did finally manage to wrap my mind around all these terms. This is what I have learned:
Grading – Classification of eggs is determined by the interior and exterior quality at the time they are packed. In the grading process, eggs are examined for quality before they are sorted according to their weight (or size). Grade quality and weight (size) are not related to one another, and eggs of any quality grade can differ in weight and size. In descending order of quality, grades are designated AA, A and B.
- Grade AA – These eggs are nearly perfect. The whites are thick and firm, and the yolks are free from any defects. The shells are clean and without cracks.
- Grade A – Eggs appear to be the same as Grade AA, but the difference is a slightly lower interior quality. These type of eggs are commonly sold in local supermarkets.
- Grade B – Eggs are noticeably different. They may have slight stains, and can be irregular in shape and size. The interior quality is further reduced. Grade B eggs are not sold in supermarkets; however, they are used commercially in powdered egg products or liquid eggs.
Cage-Free – These eggs come from hens that live in open areas or structures, such as barns. They are not placed in cages; hence, the name “cage-free”.
Fortified or Enriched – These type of eggs are from hens that have had a diet enriched or supplemented with a variety of health-boosting nutrients, such as flaxseed. Flaxseeds have a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids.
Free-Range – As the term implies, these are eggs from hens that live outdoors, or are given a certain amount of access to the outdoors.
Organic – These eggs are sought after, and cost more. Farmers must adhere to the USDA’s National Organic Program guidelines to earn this rating. Hens can only eat certified organic feed, can not be given antibiotics, vaccines or any synthetic hormones.
Pastured – These type of eggs are found at local farmers markets. Eggs are produced from hens that are raised on pasture land. They feed on grasses and insects.
Once I quickly learned my egg lingo lesson, I felt empowered. Finally, it all made sense. To tell the truth, I felt like strutting around like a banty rooster! Knowledge is a powerful thing.
Now that you know how to select your eggs, you might want to read up on how to steam-cook them in a rice-cooker. This is one of my most popular posts on the site! Give it a quick glance, for I think you will enjoy it as well 🙂