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Yes, you read correctly. Did you know that chickens can lay blue eggs? Well certain breeds can. And did you know that yolks of eggs should be a rich orange color, not pale yellow?
These are things I never gave much thought or had any clue about until I learned the importance of pastured eggs.
I used to buy any and every egg brand stores had to offer. I knew brown eggs existed, I realized some brands tasted better than others, I would cringe at the site of a huge tractor trailer stuffed full of chickens, and in the back of my mind I thought why on earth are there so many descriptions- cage free, cage free- organic, etc, but none of these things led me to pastured eggs. Researching the GAPS Diet is what finally did.
Unfortunately making the switch to pastured eggs wasn’t nearly as easy as learning their importance. For a while I bought Happy Eggs, which amazingly enough even Walmart and Meijer often have in stock, and just in the past year I’ve seen Whole Foods come out with many more pastured egg brands. However, they are a tad bit pricey. To be exact, typically I paid $5 for a carton of Happy Eggs and similar egg brands are about the same. I still wanted to find a local farm to buy eggs from. Eventually after searching state farm websites created to help people find local famers, I found someone who could supply our demand(we use a lot!); and he even drops them off at my house! Every Tuesday, egg delivery day, my daughters love seeing the eggs on our porch, and they insist on opening every carton to find the blue ones! It’s almost more exciting than getting a package delivered!
WHAT DOES A HEALTHY, NUTRITIONAL EGG YOLK LOOK LIKE?
A healthy egg yolk is actually a rich orange color, or at the very least, a dark rich yellow. The pale yellow eggs most of us are used to seeing are eggs from chickens that are cooped up and only eat grain.
An orange yolk is from a chicken living the life they were meant to live- foraging on the land and grass and hunting bugs- which yields the most healthy yolk possible.
HOW TO FIND EGGS WITH ORANGE YOLKS WITHOUT CRACKING THEM OPEN?
It’s not ideal to go around cracking open eggs at the store to check different brands for their honesty, right? Ok, this is just making me laugh typing this (because it’s something I used to seriously want to do before I found what to look for on the carton).
Cage free- no. This is just code for covered barn still packed in tight and no foraging.
Organic- no. This just means hens are fed organic grain, again- no foraging.
Free range- also a no. This basically is a term slapped on when hens aren’t kept in tight cages.
PASTURED- YES. If an egg carton says pastured, it definitely is possible the hens get to forage and hunt for bugs, but I still recommend researching the company. I’ve been deceived before.
If you are buying eggs from a farm and you can’t tell the chicken’s living conditions, either ask or go ahead and try some of the eggs and see how the yolks look when you use them.
ADDITIONAL NOTES ABOUT YOLKS
There is no specific orange color I can show you that for sure means that a chicken has been pastured.
From my experience, the egg yolks get more pale in color in the winter, but nowhere near the pale yellow of caged hen’s eggs. I also know that eating plants like marigolds can make the eggs more orange, which for some reason tickles me to think just how much this makes sense. Exactly what hens consume will play a role in their eggs’ yolk color.
Something you will also notice with pastured egg yolks is the size of the yolk, they are typically much larger than non-pastured yolks. They make amazing dippy eggs because of this! Check out my best fried and dippy egg(sunny side up) method in the tips below!
-Remember also to inquire about pesticides being used where the chickens forage. We don’t want to consume pesticides, whether it be in our eggs, meat, fresh produce,…well…in nothing at all.
-Need help making the perfect fried and dippy eggs? Here is the best way:
You will need…
– Iron skillet (nontoxic unlike Teflon and other nonstick pans)- make sure it isn’t coated with ceramic on the inside (ceramic coated is a perfectly nontoxic option for cooking-it just doesn’t have the durability of a noncoated iron skillet, which I’ve found is necessary for cooking eggs)
– Stainless steel spatula- the perfect spatula for uncoated iron skillets
– Avocado oil- not olive, not coconut. This is because the high smoke point of avocado oil will be a saving grace while you find the perfect temperature setting of your stove, or if you just forget to turn it down once heated like I do. The higher smoke point assures that there is no unhealthy oxidation occurring while cooking.
– Make sure your skillet is nice and seasoned. Seasoning an iron skillet means that the pan is conditioned for optimal cooking- essentially, oiled to perfection. If you have a new skillet, rub avocado oil all around the inside and toss it in a heated oven. Never wash an iron skillet with soap. If you need scrubbing power after cooking, rub avocado oil around the inside of the pan, let it sit for a bit, then use salt for the scrubbing agent. The avocado oil loosens the stuck on food and the salt scrubs it away. I use old cotton dish rags to scrub the oil and salt(microfiber will NOT work for this- I’ve tried- it doesn’t scrub the pan as well and oil doesn’t wash out of microfiber like it does from cotton). You can also use a scraper or your metal spatula to remove stuck on food (an uncoated iron skillet stands up to this kinds of action-a ceramic coated iron skillet will not). Only now will you want to use water to rinse. If you try to use water with the initial scrubbing, the avocado oil won’t work as well. Remember, rinsing is fine- washing with soap is not. Lastly, wipe your pan down with clean avocado oil- I use a paper towel or clean cotton dish rag for this. When your pan is seasoned, it will be a nice shiny, rich, black color- not a faded grey.
– BIG TIP: Keep one of your iron skillets dedicated to just making dippy and fried eggs. Only scrape out any stuck egg crisps with your spatula and/or use a cotton dish cloth or paper towel to wipe them out. Don’t even rinse this pan. I don’t rinse mine, granted I use it everyday, but if I happen to rinse it, it takes days to get it seasoned well again (unless I re-season using the oven method as stated above). When a pan looses some of its seasoning the eggs may still stick even with coating the pan right at the time of cooking. The oil must be soaked into the pan, not just laying on the surface.
Now for the cooking part…
– Pour avocado oil in your skillet, enough to coat the bottom of the pan and turn your burner on high to heat the oil up quick. DO NOT put the eggs in until you know the oil is hot, or they will stick to the pan, but you don’t want it to get too hot-so a few minutes is perfect(for sure don’t let it start smoking). When you’ve cracked your eggs into the pan, turn the heat down to about medium. I don’t have exact times or settings as stove temperatures can be so, so different. For fried wait until the yolks appear mostly cooked to flip, and for dippies (excuse me, sunny-side-up) flip them once just the white looks cooked (don’t let it bubble- that’s too long). Don’t give the second side long before taking them out of the pan(this goes for both fried and dippies). Explaining what an egg looks like when mostly cooked is about impossible (once I cooked eggs into some strange plastic consistency in the oven because they still looked shiny and runny), so it may take some time to get your egg flipping times and rhythm mastered. And try not to multitask too much while cooking, I constantly overcook our eggs because I forget it is close to flipping time when I walk away from the stove.
– You’ll want to sprinkle your desired seasonings over the eggs while on their first side and still runny. I like mine simply with sea salt.
– For some added kick, or a dinnertime rendition, top with homemade saurkraut from Cleveland Kraut (after the eggs are done cooking of course- don’t heat up the saurekraut as this kills the beneficial probiotics).
–WANT TO RAISE YOU OWN CHICKENS? Justin Rhodes at Abundant Permaculture offers a free video course to get you up and running with your new chicks and has also produced a more in depth DVD to help homesteaders make and save money raising chickens. He produced this DVD because he saw the need for one. He feels when he started homesteading a complete instructional video would’ve saved him so much time, energy, frustration, and money. I completely understand. Trial and error costs money and way too much time. He knows his stuff and he interviews well known chicken guru’s such as Joel Salatin, Jim Adkins, Pat Foreman, and Lisa Steele. He offers a few different packages to meet the level of chicken homesteading you wish to learn about. If you only want a few chickens to have your own eggs, the free video course should be suffiscient, but it you want to expand your flock to meat birds and/or a large number of layers, I recommend the complete or premium edition.
THE COMPLETE EDITION appears to cater to those who want to homestead for just themselves, while the PREMIUM EDITION appears to cater to those who wish to make raising chickens a profitable income. I’ll tell you now the price seems a little much at first glance for a 2.5 hour film, but it’s important to remember how much time it will save having everything you need to know about chickens in one place, you don’t have to buy multiple books that will take you many more hours to read and you won’t have to search the ends of the internet for pictures and instructions.
MY STORY CONTINUES- RAISING CHICKENS ON MY OWN
I owe a thank you to Justin Rhodes at Abundant Permaculture for giving me the confidence to try to raise chickens while living in town.
I just wish it worked a little better the first time around, but I couldn’t do everything the way Justin does. He uses an electric movable chicken fence, but seeing as we didn’t have any kind of fence around our yard, I didn’t see this as a good idea. I didn’t want kids walking by to touch the electric chicken fence not knowing what is was. This turned out to be a wise decision, but the plastic chicken fence we chose wasn’t keeping them in at all, as my neighbors could tell you I’m sure (if any of are reading this- thanks for being patient and kind with us, and I hope you got a kick out of watching us chase our chickens down).
Our chickens are now happily residing at my mother’s country property, but I’m so excited to try again this year. Hopefully this year we will be putting a fence around our yard, so no chicken fence will be needed. Living in town isn’t my dream, but it’s what we can make work at the time. While homesteading is much harder, and has it’s own set of complications, when living in city limits, I am determined that it can be done (at least to some extent).
MORE ABOUT HOMESTEADING AND JUSTIN RHODES
Finding pastured eggs and meat isn’t impossible but it takes some searching, and there is a very limited quantity (which doesn’t help the price). If you can, please consider starting a homestead of your own, especially if you have land and could share your bounty with others (of course you would make a profit!). THERE IS A NEED FOR PASTURED MEAT AND EGGS, LET’S SPREAD THE WORD! Like I said before, homesteading in town might not have the same level of potential as a country homestead but it can be done!
On the quest to bring us more great information about homesteading and healthy farm practices, Justin Rhodes from Abundant Permaculture is currently on a journey across America discovering the greatest sustainable yards, homesteads, and farms. He converted an old school bus into living quarters and brought along his wife and 4 young children on this formally called- The Great American Farm Tour. I am such a supporter of what Justin does and how he does it that I helped fund this tour on Kickstarter, and am patiently waiting to view the final product!
WHERE TO BUY
SIGN UP TO TRY THE FREE VIDEO COURSE FROM ABUNDANT PERMACULTURE HERE, AND THEN SEARCH FOR THE DVDS,
OR FOLLOW THESE LINK TO BUY THE DVDS RIGHT AWAY
COMPLETE EDITION, OR PREMIUM EDITION