Eggs -

One of the most generally valuable of food products, because of the many ways in which they are utilized.

When lighly cooked, eggs are easily digested and are well suited to sick or delicate people. Boiled hard or fried, they are more difficult of assimilation. A fresh egg is said to equal in nourishment one and a half ounces of meat and one ounce of bread.

In ordinary parlance, hen's eggs are always understood when "eggs" are mentioned, but the omnivorous human diet includes also those of various other creatures. There is, for example, a limited consumption of the eggs of ducks, geese and guineafowls, and in some sections of gulls and other wild birds, those of the plover being considered a great delicacy. The eggs of turkeys and, in California, of ostriches are also occasionally eaten, but they are ordinarily too valuable for hatching to use them for the table. Again, terrapin eggs are served with the meat, the eggs of the sturgeon as caviar, those of the shad as "shad roe," etc. These, however, are topics foreign to the article following, which refers to the eggs of domestic hens.

There is a great similarity in the proportion of shell, white and yolk in fowls' eggs. Roughly speaking, the shell makes up one-tenth, the yolk three-tenths, and the white about six-tenths. The white is nearly seven-eigths water. The solids of the white are practically all nitrogenous matters, principally albumen. The yolk is about one-half water, one-third fat and the remainder principally nitrogenous matter.

The egg meat varies though somewhat in different seasons and conditions. Those received in the spring are generally firmer and fuller than those gathered later in the summer and the thickness of the shells varies in different sections - those of Ohio and Indiana, for example, being generally harder and thicker than those of Michigan and New York - owing, perhaps, to the difference in the gravel of the soil.

All eggs are examined by "candling." The process, in a cold storage house, is performed in a dark room where electric light spots glow inside dark green metal shades, each with a single open space or hole. The egg is placed against this hole and an electric ray penetrates its very being.

For months during the egg gathering season, a force of men stand at these light holes, candling eggs with marvelous rapidity and grading them in boxes which an elevator is carrying ceaselessly to cold storage rooms.

New-laid eggs appear semi-transparent, of a uniform pale pinkish tint, with only a very small air-chamber - a separation of the skin from the shell, filled with air.

If incubation has begun, a dark spot is visible, increasing in size in proportion to the length of incubation, and the entire contents appear cloudy, becoming worse as the egg grows older. Other similar spots are caused by fungus growth. A rotten egg is dark-colored, almost opaque. The air-chamber also becomes larger with age.

There are various degrees of badness classified in the trade by different colors. Those absolutely unfit for food are used in the tanning industry.

A great many eggs are not "full" - the fact does not mean that the egg is not a good product, but it must not be rated as either a "fancy fresh" or a "fresh-gathered extra." Again there are "checks." A "check" is an egg that has met with an accident that has cracked the shell so slightly that the crack is ordinarily invisible - the egg is not necessarily bad, but it must not be sold at the same price as a perfect one.

A writer in the New England Grocer says of the egg trade: "The original owners of the eggs know as little about the history of their distribution as do the men and women who finally devour them.

"To these first and last persons who handle the product, the eggs are either good or bad, and there's an end on't! But to the man who handles them between the farm and the breakfast table there are Fancy Fresh, Fresh Gathered, Storage Packed. Storage, Limed, Known Marks, Extras, Firsts, Seconds, Dirties, Checks, etc. The distinctions become very necessary when one realizes that practically the whole enormous egg business is conducted by telegraph and that the dealer who purchases a carload of eggs has no opportunity to examine them until they arrive."

With the exception of those which, because of their proximity to a large city, can profitably be shipped by express, eggs always travel in refrigerator cars - winter as well as summer, for the heavy construction of the perambulating ice-chests is equally serviceable for protection against cold and heat. One carload contains four hundred cases, or one hundred and forty-four thousand eggs.

On large poultry farms, eggs are produced and handled very much as the product of any other factory - the poultry man knows his cost of production by dozen or case, the operative cost, etc., etc., just as does his contemporary in any other line of business - but the greater part of the country's egg supply is still represented by accumulations from thousands of general farmers scattered all over the country.

"The history of one of these farm eggs reads like 'a gathering of the clans.' The hen that laid it may be the property of a small farmer in a Western state, located fifty or a hundred miles from the nearest good-sized town. The egg is one of a dozen that the farmer takes to the nearest village store and either sells for a small sum of money or barters for sugar, calico, tobacco or some other commodity that he needs more than he needs eggs.

"Other farmers in the neighborhood are doing the same and the store is thus the recruiting station for a goodly company of eggs that must necessarily find a market somewhere else. These eggs are sent to a larger center, where they pass into the control of a large, or small, shipper who mobilizes them, to continue the figure, no longer by companies but by battalions, regiments and armies - i.e., carloads.

"When the shipper has a carload of eggs ready for the eastern market, he telegraphs the fact to an eastern dealer. A certain amount of dickering goes on over the wire, and the eggs are finally sent East. The eggs are not though for immediate consumption, hence the necessity for the refrigerator car and the storage warehouse to retain the condition in which they were purchased.

"Comparatively few eggs are found to be bad, and all shipments are now sold 'at mark,' a technical way of saying that a case of eggs at wholesale is supposed to be within a small percentage of the requirements or standard of each grade, and there is no rebate for damaged eggs. Formerly there was a rebate during a part of the year that was called the 'loss off' season, because a certain percentage of the eggs were not expected to come up to the standard of the various grades.

"There are very few disputes between shippers and dealers that are not settled peaceably between the persons directly concerned, but occasionally they form the basis of expert examination by either the Chamber of Commerce or Fruit and Produce Exchange inspectors, sometimes indeed getting as far as the Arbitration Committee."

There is a wide difference in the weight of eggs - although all cooking receipts say "take two eggs," or whatever number seems suitable, without any allowance for variations in size!

The breeds that lay the largest eggs, averaging seven to a pound, are the Black Spanish, Light Brahma, Houdan, La Flèche, and Crève Cœur. eggs of medium size and weight, averaging eight or nine to a pound, are laid by the Leghorn, Cochin, Minorca, Red Cap, Poland, Dorking and Games. Hamburg eggs average about ten to the pound. There is thus a difference of three eggs in one pound weight. The average weight of twenty eggs laid by different breeds is 2 1/8 pounds.

The most popular types of fowls for egg-producing are Leghorns, Minorcas, Black Spanish, Hamburgs and Red Caps, their average total output being larger than from other varieties.

The size of the egg varies also with the care and treatment of the fowls. Those from the South formerly averaged small for all breeds, but a marked improvement has been noticeable during recent years.

A bulletin of the North Carolina station of the U. S. Department of Agriculture gives the following figures as the results of tests made to ascertain the comparative values of eggs from a number of Southern-bred standard fowls, both as pullets and mature hens.

The first named type, Single Comb Brown Leghorn Pullets, is taken as the starting point - the eggs from the others following being found of higher food value to the extent of the percentage named. For example, if eggs from the Single Comb Brown Leghorn Pullets were at that time worth 30 cents a dozen, and those from Single Comb Brown Leghorn Hens were worth 20% more, or 36 cents a dozen, and those from the Light Brahma Hens, 60% more, were worth 48 cents a dozen.

These averages are subject to variations as a result of differences in feeding and locality.

Per Cent.Greater Value Single Comb brown Leghorn Pullets............. *** Single Comb Brown Leghorn Hens................ 20.7 Silver-Laced Wyandotte Pullets................ 23. Light Brahma Pullets.......................... 30. Late-hatched Barred Plymouth Rock Hens........ 30.4 White Wyandotte Hens.......................... 30.4 White Wyandotte Pullets....................... 30.4 White Plymouth Rock Pullets................... 31.1 Per Cent.Greater Value Buff Cochin Hens.............................. 31.8 Black Langshan Pullets........................ 31.8 Barred Plymouth Rock Pullets.................. 34.8 Barred Plymouth Rock Hens..................... 40. Buff Cochin and Black Langshan Pullets........ 47.2 Black Minorca Pullets......................... 47.2 Black Langshan Hens........................... 51.4 Light Brahma Hens............................. 60.

By far the greater part of the eggs held over for future use are kept in condition in cold storage, but when this is impossible they may be preserved by immersion in a solution of water-glass (Sodium and Potassium Silicate). Experiments, both in a practical way and in laboratories, have demonstrated that a 10% solution of water-glass will preserve them so effectively that even at the end of three or four months they will appear fresh. In most packed eggs, the yolk soon settles to one side, and the egg is then inferior in quality, but in those preserved for three and a half months in water-glass, the yolk retained its normal position. One gallon of the solution is sufficient for fifty dozen eggs if they are properly packed.

eggs varnished with vaseline or preserved in limewater also keep well but the former is too laborious and the latter sometimes communicates a disagreeable odor and taste.

eggs in cold storage are held at temperature ranging between a little below and a little above the freezing point. They are seldom kept longer than six months, but under good conditions they will retain a fairly fresh flavor for a year or more, losing however in weight from the evaporation of the whites.

eggs enter into commerce in many forms in addition to those in the shell - including whole eggs removed from the shell and stored in cans at a little below the freezing point, powdered yolks, crystallized whites, desiccated eggs, etc.

Large quantities of egg substitute are consumed in mining camps and desert regions. Some of these consist chiefly of starch, others are of animal origin. They are of varying degrees of value.

Fresh eggs should be kept in a dry, cool place free from any strong or objectionable odor. If packed in salt or sawdust they will remain fresh longer than if exposed to the air.

boiling eggs. There are other ways of boiling eggs than by their immersion for a certain number of minutes in boiling water. A more pleasing result can be obtained, (1) by placing them in cold water and gradually bringing it to a boil, removing them when the boiling point has been reached, or (2) by placing them in boiling water and then turning the gas flame out, or setting the pot well back on the range, removing the eggs in from seven to ten minutes. By either procedure, the white will be tender and jelly-like instead of the somewhat tough and leathery consistence of the ordinary boiled egg.

Arround Eggs in The Grocer's Encyclopedia


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