Aren't eggs just perfect? They are the complete package - healthy, versatile, durable, long lasting, and, most importantly, delicious. But they can also be complicated. If you visit your local grocery store, you'll encounter a confusing array of information, much of which is misleading. To begin to unravel this problem, we need to start with chickens.
Chickens are delicious and as such, prey to just about anything with teeth. In order to obtain eggs, you have to keep your chickens alive and healthy. The easiest way to do this is to keep the chickens in a cage - like in a prison with each inmate locked in its cell. This is the most efficient (and most common) method of raising laying hens. Put the birds in a warehouse with perfectly controlled lighting and temperature and give them food and water, the chicken will produce eggs. If you want to be able to claim that your eggs are cage-free, then you can release them from their cell and allow them to mingle with their fellow inmates - but still within the prison walls. You could even go a step further and let your chickens free range. But what does that mean? There is no regulatory framework for the use of these terms, so it may be as limited as allowing the chickens out into the exercise yard for a few hours every day.
Here at Amber Oaks, we allow our hens complete freedom to do as they please. We provide them food, water, and shelter, but there is no restriction on where or when they come and go. This is typically referred to as Pasture Raised - where the chicken gets to be a chicken. In addition to the fresh water, sunshine, grass, and bugs, we supplement the chicken’s diet with what they need to produce strong, nutrient dense eggs. Although these are primarily Certified Organic feeds specially formulated for egg production, when they have the freedom to go anywhere, they often grab a snack from the pigs (who get conventional feed). It's our belief that this results in healthy, happy chickens and healthy eggs.
Every evening we collect, clean, inspect, package, and refrigerate the eggs. There’s a lot of discussion about the virtues of cleaning eggs. The theory is that if you wash them, you wash off the bloom (natural protective coating) which makes the eggs more permeable and thus reduces their storability. Here at the ranch we wash eggs as needed. Because the eggs are pasture-raised, they are likely to get a bit dirty. Sometimes an egg gets broken and fouls the others, or we find an egg outside of the nest box. When we need to wash an egg, we use warm water and a cloth to remove dirt.
After cleaning and inspecting the eggs, we package them and store them in the refrigerator. Refrigeration is another subject of contention. Many people ask if they can store their eggs at room temperature. The Texas Health Services Division requires producers to store their eggs at 45F or less in order to inhibit bacterial growth. If you want to store your eggs at room temperature, it is best that they not have been washed (but still clean) nor previously refrigerated because condensation will form on the outside of the egg when they cool down which creates a favorable condition for contamination. If you want unwashed, unrefrigerated eggs give us a call.
Eggs come in all sizes, shapes, and colors. Our eggs are “ungraded”. In order to have “graded” eggs, you have to pay a USDA inspector, and really what does that tell you? Grading evaluates the exterior and interior quality of an egg, and I'm not sure how they manage to do this with thousands of eggs. We often see eggs with apparent anomalies on the outside - this has no bearing on the interior quality. Our eggs come in all sizes too. We often get huge double yolk eggs, and sometimes we get little pixy eggs. If variety is the spice of life, why not savor the uniqueness of each chicken?
Speaking of flavor, have you tasted our eggs? Their flavor is so rich, you can almost see it. The yolk of a pasture-raised egg is darker and thicker. Ideally, eggs should be a deep orange, not washed out yellow. Both the yolk and the white of a fresh egg stand tall, and when you cut into the yolk, it runs out like honey. Amber Oaks Pasture Raised Eggs enhance every meal with rich, delicious flavor. We know you'll appreciate them.
$7.50 per lb. - $50 Deposit Required
Delivered the Tuesday before Thanksgiving
Fresh - never frozen
This Week's Markets
The Elgin Farmers Market is a year-round market that will remain open every Thursday. Pre-orders are encouraged.
The Taylor Farmers Market is a year-round market that will is open every Saturday. Pre-orders are encouraged. Live music most Saturday's from 11 -1.