One of my absolute favorite locally grown products are eggs. They are incredibly good for you, low in calories but high in protein and the difference between store bought eggs and local eggs is incredible. It’s been quite some time since I had eggs from the grocery store, but I can say that there is a noticeable difference in all parts of the egg. The shells are typically much stronger, the whites tend to be stronger and not as watery and loose, and the yolks are richer in taste and color.
Eggs are especially good sources of choline, tryptophan, selenium, iodine, and vitamin B2 but they contain many different vitamins and minerals. While the color of the shell of the egg makes no difference to what’s inside, a strong shell is a good sign, meaning that the chicken’s diet has plenty of calcium.
Calcium is also found inside the egg, mostly in the yolk. Actually, most of the vitamins and minerals are found in the yolk, making it the healthiest part of the egg. The yolks contain all of the vitamins A, D, E and K found in the egg and over 90 per cent of the calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, thiamin, B6, folate and B12. The yolks of eggs from chickens that are free to forage and eat plenty of greens and bugs are much richer to taste, but are also higher in DHA (an omega 3 especially good for the brain and eyes), vitamin E and carotene, which is what makes the yolks a richer yellow or even more orange than typical store bought eggs.
While the yolk of the egg does contain cholesterol, studies have shown that eating whole eggs does not affect ones LDL (bad) cholesterol levels but may even raise HDL (good) cholesterol, although you should always speak with your doctor before making any major changes in your diet.
The difference in freshness is undeniable, too. When I pick up eggs locally, quite often they’re fresh that morning, sometimes even still warm. This means that peeling them after hard boiling will be difficult (but a good sign if you want fresh eggs) unless you wait at least a week before hard boiling them. I’ve heard of adding a small amount of vinegar or baking soda to the water that you’re boiling the eggs in helps, but I haven’t found it to make a difference and usually just let my eggs sit in the fridge before hard boiling them.
Finding local eggs may not be as easy as picking some up from the grocery store, but it’s well worth the effort. While some local eggs are available at the grocery store and other local stores, they are more expensive due to having to be graded. It can be well worth your money to find local farmers, not to mention that it’s very nice to actually see the chickens that your eggs are coming from — and how those chickens are treated!
Some farmers have signs outside their home advertising that they sell eggs. Some eggs may even be available at the Creston Valley Farmers’ Market if you arrive early enough when the market is running, although eggs are actually in high demand at the market! Anyone that would like more information about selling eggs at the market can get in touch with farmers’ market manager Jen Comer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-977-5362 for more information.
Eggs can be cooked so many different ways. They are fast and very easy to prepare by simply, frying, boiling, poaching or even baking, but are also used in all kinds of baking and cooking as a binder.
One of my favorite desserts for using eggs and using up local fruit and berries is a clafoutis. Don’t let the name fool you; it may sound like a fancy French dessert, but it’s incredibly quick and easy to make and works well with frozen or fresh fruit. Frozen fruit do “bleed” their color into the whole dish more than fresh, but the end product will be just as delicious. Traditionally a clafoutis is made with cherries, but we love it with all kinds of fruit and berries.
Lemon Blueberry Clafoutis
3-4C fresh or frozen blueberries
3 large eggs
pinch sea salt
2/3C flour(all purpose, or whole grain pastry flour)
1 tsp vanilla extract
the zest of one lemon (plus the juice to squeeze over clafoutis once it’s baked)
1 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp sugar to prepare pan for baking
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare a cast iron skillet, pie plate or even a small square baking dish by greasing it with butter and then sprinkling with sugar. Set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt and sugar. Add in the milk, flour, extract and lemon zest and mix well. Place the berries in the bottom of the prepared dish and pour the egg mixture over top. Place in the oven and bake 55-60 minutes.
I used a 10-inch cast iron skillet to bake mine; if you use a small dish, like a nine-inch pie plate or eight-inch square baking dish, cook a few extra minutes and make sure the center is completely set before removing from the oven.
Cool slightly before serving warm, or chill before serving with the juice of a fresh lemon squeezed over top, a dusting of powdered sugar and whipped cream.
Heidi Bjarnason is a Creston Valley mom and blogger. For more recipes, ideas, pictures and kid friendly ideas and food, visit Fooddoodles.com.