Are brown eggs healthier than white? Should you get x-large or large? Natural, organic, free-range? How do you choose the best eggs at the grocery store?
What are the best eggs to buy?
Brown eggs come from brown feathered hens, white eggs come from white feathered hens. The taste and nutrition is the same so just go ahead and pick your favorite color.
Most recipes are written for large eggs but you can usually substitute medium or extra-large if large isn’t available, as long as the recipe doesn’t call for whipped egg whites. If you aren’t following a fancy schmancy recipe – such as if you’re just making hard boiled, fried, or scrambled eggs – you can use any size.
Egg grades are labeled AA, A, or B . There is no difference between the grades in terms of nutrition, but grade AA eggs are much prettier than grade B eggs.
In addition to color, grade, and size, there are a number of other words that you might see on an egg carton. Here’s what they mean:
- Antibiotic-free – all eggs produced in the U.S. should be antibiotic free, even if they’re not labeled that way. Don’t let this be a deciding factor.
- Cage-free or Free-roaming – these eggs come from hens that were raised in an open indoor area that they could freely roam and that provided shelter and protection from predators.
- Fertile eggs – if incubated and not refrigerated, these eggs could hatch into chicks. Most eggs sold to consumers are non-fertile and could not hatch.
- Free-range – these eggs come from hens that have access to the outdoors
- Gluten free – all eggs are naturally gluten free. Don’t let this be a deciding factor.
- Hormone – free – all shell eggs produced in the U.S. should be hormone free, even if they’re not labeled that way. Don’t let this be a deciding factor.
- Natural – what does this mean? Who knows, but all eggs can be labelled natural, so again, don’t let this be a deciding factor.
- Organic – these eggs come from cage-free, free-roaming hens that are fed certified organic feed and have access to the outdoors.
- Pasteurized – these eggs are heat-treated to destroy pathogens. These eggs are recommended for recipes that call for raw or runny eggs.
- Pastured – these eggs come from hens that are free to roam the pasture. This is not a USDA regulated term.
- Vegetarian – these eggs come from vegetarian hens.
There are many nutrient content claims that may appear on eggs as well:
- Good source of protein, Good source of vitamin D, Zero trans fats, Zero carbohydrates – all eggs qualify for these nutrient content claims, even if the manufacturer doesn’t choose to include them on the label. Don’t let this be a deciding factor.
- Contains __mcg lutein, Omega-3, Vitamin E – these eggs come from hens fed a diet high in lutein /omega-3 / vitamin D and as a result, the eggs contain more of the specified nutrient than most eggs.
Another factor I consider has nothing to do with the eggs themselves. I look at the carton material and choose cartons that are either cardboard or hard plastic instead of Styrofoam. It’s nice to consider the environment’s health and happiness as well as your own sometimes.
Once you’ve decided on what type of eggs to get, make sure you check each egg for breaks and cracks before purchase.
How should I store my eggs?
Store eggs in the refrigerator in their original carton for three to five weeks after you buy them. If the carton has a “best before” date, toss them at this time. Store eggs with the large end of the eggs facing up to help keep the yolk centered.
Fancy pants tip: If you have too many eggs and the expiration date is coming up, you can blend and freeze raw eggs in a ziplock bag.