How to Buy Eggs

When buying eggs, you have several factors to consider. Most recipes call for large eggs, so keep that in mind when buying. Besides the size of the eggs, also consider the specialty eggs available, which offer different benefits to the consumer. Shell color isn’t related to quality and is simply a function of the breed of hen.

In the supermarket, you generally see two grades of eggs: AA and A. The differences between the grades are hardly noticeable to the average home cook. Purchase either grade.

Egg size is based on a minimum weight per dozen:

  • Jumbo: 30 ounces

  • Extra large: 27 ounces

  • Large: 24 ounces

    [Credit: PhotoDisc/Getty Images]
    Credit: PhotoDisc/Getty Images

Consider the following to help you decide if you want to go for specialty (more expensive) eggs:

  • Free-range eggs: These eggs come from hens that actually get to peck around outside, even if only in a very small pen, as opposed to hens that live inside in cages.

    If knowing the hens that laid your eggs got some sunshine makes you feel better about your egg consumption, go for free-range.

  • Organic eggs: These eggs come from chickens that weren’t fed any drugs, hormones, or antibiotics and, in many cases, weren’t fed any animal by-products. Proponents believe this type of diet makes the eggs safer and more pure.

  • Omega-3 eggs: These eggs have more of those fatty acids purported to benefit heart health, and they typically have a higher vitamin E content than regular eggs. These benefits result when hens are fed higher-quality grains.

Many brands of eggs come from free-range hens on organic diets, producing eggs with extra nutrition. Many people buy these eggs not only because they want to support farmers who treat their hens more humanely but also because the eggs taste better. Try them for yourself to decide whether the improvement in taste is worth the extra money.

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