FROM HEN HOUSE TO YOUR HOUSE
- To produce every egg we eat, the hen requires about 24-25 hours work along with about 5.5 ounces of food and 10 ounces of water.
- An average hen will produce about 240 eggs per year, in 13 month laying cycles.
- Food is normally provided to the hens in automated feeders. The feeder is scientifically formulated to make sure the hen will provide the best eggs that can be produced.
- As the eggs are laid, they are collected by hand, or in automated houses, roll gently down a conveyor belt.
- The eggs are then transported to the packing facility. Along the way, the eggs are kept under refrigeration at 45 to 55 degrees to protect their quality.
- At the packing plant, the eggs are first thoroughly washed and then oiled with a light mineral oil coating to assure their freshness for a longer period.
- Next, the egg passes over a high intensity light shining from underneath. This process is known as candling. This term originated years ago, when the egg was inspected by holding it over a candle in a darkened room. The candling process allows the inspector to take out eggs that have imperfections, blood spots, double yolks, and eggs that have a broken shell. A final check is made by either a state or federal inspector, who is responsible for maintaining quality control.
- At this point, the egg is graded for both interior and exterior quality. A perfectly good egg on the outside can be rejected because of a poor shell appearance. The interior and exterior qualities are graded AA, A, B or C - with AA and A being most common.
- After grading for interior and exterior qualities, the eggs are then sized by weight, with the total weight of a dozen being classified as:
Jumbo = 30 ounces per dozen
Extra Large= 27 ounces per dozen
Large= 24 ounces per dozen
Medium= 21 ounces per dozen
Small = 18 ounces per dozen
Pee Wee= 15 ounces per dozen
- Extra large, large and medium are the most common sizes. By the way, most recipes are developed using large eggs.
- Once sized, the eggs are then placed in cartons, packed in 30-dozen cases, and refrigerated.
- From the packing plant the eggs are delivered to your favorite grocery store via refrigerated trucks and then placed on display in refrigerated cases for retail sale.
- Once you have purchased your eggs, refrigerate them as soon as possible. Leaving your eggs in their original carton, with the large end up, helps to maintain flavor, freshness and overall quality.
- Store leftover yolks under water in a covered container in the refrigerator. They can be held in this manner 2 or 3 days. The water should be poured off before the yolks are used.
- Leftover whites can be kept about 10 days in a tightly covered jar in the refrigerator.
- Hard-cooked eggs, still in their shell, will stay fresh for approximately one week.
- Eggs can be frozen, but not in their shell. Freeze only clean, fresh eggs. For detailed information, visit Freezing Eggs.
- Pickled or marinated eggs are another way of storing eggs. For detailed information, visit Pickled Eggs.