Wednesday, June 2, 2010

All Eggs Taste The Same

Farm fresh, organic, factory farmed... or even from your own backyard chickens... it just doesn't matter... they all taste the same.

I guess this shouldn't be surprising... so much of how things taste is dictated by factors outside of your mouth... but surprised I still was. The most shocking assertion was that freshness of the egg also makes little discernible difference:
My chickens' free-roaming ways, their clover and bugs, their psychic well-being, none of it makes a taste bud's worth of difference. Neither, surprisingly, does refrigeration or freshness. "The only flavor difference refrigeration can make is if an egg, with its porous shell, absorbs flavors from foods it's put next to," says Curtis. "And as an egg ages, it loses carbon dioxide and water, but that doesn't really affect the flavor."

But can age affect texture? Eggs straight out of the nest box have stand-up yolks, and whites that hold together and resist beating. Older eggs have flatter yolks and less-viscous whites and are more easily beaten. Although those differences were undetectable in our tasting -- each soft-cooked egg we sampled was described as "creamy" by somebody -- I thought they might be noticeable in other applications.

Curtis confirmed that there can be discernible differences. For starters, a hard-cooked egg is easier to peel if it's over five days old, when the egg has lost its acidity and the membrane releases readily from the white. She also has found that whites from older eggs make for a slightly denser angel food cake, and she suspects that other applications that are heavily dependent on egg whites, such as meringues or souffles, might be affected. The difference, though, is small. "I'm not sure if it's enough that consumers would really notice unless they had a fresh-egg comparison setting beside it," she says.
I guess when you think about the stage of the life cycle an egg is at, there probably aren't a whole lot of variables that could come into play here... but still I would have thought a fresher egg would have tasted better, even if I'm not expecting to detect "hints of clover" from the fact that the mother hen was free range.

photo by Flickr user cobalt123 used under a Creative Commons licesne

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