Friday, December 23, 2011

Egg Sorting

Cartons all lined up
nested one inside the other
Since we're now getting about a dozen eggs a day, I have a new daily task! Sorting & cleaning eggs.

When you're selling from home/farm-gate you don't need to size or grade your eggs, but I find it's a lot easier for customers. We have 4 carton sizes

Jumbos: +72g
X-Large: 64g+
Large: 57g+
Small & Medium is anything below and I don't sell anything less then about 45g.

I also don't sell anything more then 80g, I just find they are too big and break too easily.

We don't wash any of our eggs. I only remove any stray feathers or small amount of dirt with a dry cloth.

Little bit of dirt on this egg
Using a commercial egg wash, or a bleach solution is good for cleaning eggs but it also removed the natural 'bloom'. This is a thin layer on the outside of the egg that prevents water loss and bacteria. So un-washed eggs last longer.

If you'd like to clean them you can wash them as soon as you get home with a bleach solution = 15ml/4 litre standard household (5%) bleach.
Sand paper marks

Most of the eggs come out of the coop clean, those that have a tiny bit of dirt or dis-colouration I just take a bit of sand-paper and remove that.

Anything that's really dirty (like an egg laid on the coop floor) becomes a lovely treat for the dogs. In fact they are so into the eggs they follow on my heels as soon as I leave the coop until I'm finish grading eggs. I've had a few eggs stolen out of my un-attended baskets as well!

It's a good idea to give your eggs a quick wash with water or dish-soap before you want to eat them. I generally don't, depending on what I'm using them for.

Natural Speckles
Our eggs are fertilized, at least they are supposed to be, we have a lot of hens for two roosters! That does not change the nutritional value or taste of the eggs in any way. The eggs are collected several times a day so they never have a chance to develop.

Once the eggs are all cleaned up & weighed it's time to candle them. I do this with a flash light and a little stand I made from a toilet-paper tube. You can see the egg in the picture is beautiful! You want to make sure the egg is fresh (no large air pockets) and is free from internal spots. Sometimes a little bit of blood or protein gets inside an egg as it's forming, they are fine too eat, but unsightly so I try very hard to make sure none of customers end up with any of them.

If you're unsure if your egg is fresh or not, place it in a small glass of water.
If it floats chuck it out! 
If it sinks, it's good to eat.
Mother Earth News did an egg study a while ago showing you could keep unwashed fertile eggs on the counter-top for 6 months and still eat them. Please don't do that!! But our farm-fresh eggs should be good well past the time it takes you to eat them up.

Our house carton is always interesting, it's full of the largest, smallest, wrinkly, speckled, ugly eggs.

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