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All About the Egg

"Blown Out" Eggshells

Shells from which the edible part of the egg has been emptied. With nothing inside to spoil, you can decorate empty eggshells and keep them indefinitely.

– See Empty Eggshells

Bain Marie

 – See Water Bath

Baked Eggs

– See Cooking Methods, Baked

Beak Trimming

The old phrase “pecking order” comes from the fact that chickens do peck at one another, sometimes inflicting considerable injury and even death. To prevent this, the majority of commercial egg farms trim beaks when chicks are 10 days old or younger, when there is little stress, a practice supported by the scientific community. The process is similar to clipping a dog’s nails or trimming a horse’s hooves. Of course, chicks and hens with trimmed beaks can still eat and drink. Research has shown that mortality in flocks that are not beak-trimmed is considerably higher than in flocks that are beak-trimmed.


– See Hollandaise Sauce


You can make many beverages with eggs. When recipes call for raw eggs, to eliminate risk and ensure food safety, eggs need to be heated to 160°F (71°C) or use pasteurized shell eggs or egg products. Eggnog, for example, is a well-known beverage made from eggs and milk. Visit for an eggnog recipe.

– See Doneness Guidelines, Eggnog, Egg Safety, Raw Eggs

Biological Value

A measurement of protein quality expressing the rate of efficiency with which protein is used for growth.

The egg is a complete protein food because egg protein has all nine of the essential amino acids (as well as all nine of the non-essential amino acids). Scientists often use egg protein as the standard against which they judge all other proteins. Based on the essential amino acids it provides, egg protein is second only to mother’s milk for human nutrition. A large egg contains 6.29 grams of high-quality protein, about 12.6% of the Daily Reference Value (DRV) for protein.

– See Nutrient, Protein

biological value


One of the B vitamins which plays an important role in cell metabolism and the utilization of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Biotin is present in many foods, including egg yolk, and is synthesized by the body.

Avidin, one of the egg proteins, can combine with biotin and make biotin unavailable. However, a human would have to eat 24 raw egg whites a day for biotin to be inhibited by avidin. Heat inactivates the avidin, so biotin is not inhibited in cooked eggs.

– See Avidin

Bird Flu

– See Avian Influenza

Blood Spots

Occasionally found on an egg yolk. These tiny spots do not indicate a fertilized egg. Instead, they are caused by the rupture of a blood vessel on the yolk surface during formation of the egg or by a similar accident in the wall of the oviduct.

Mass candling methods reveal most eggs with blood spots and those eggs are removed. However, even with mass scanners, it’s impossible to catch them all.

Both chemically and nutritionally, eggs with blood spots are safe to eat. You can remove the spot with the tip of a knife, if you wish.

– See Formation, Grading


Also known as the cuticle, bloom is the natural coating or covering on the eggshell that seals the eggshell pores. The bloom helps to prevent bacteria from getting inside the shell and reduces moisture loss from the egg. In nature, the bloom dries and flakes off. Before they are sent to market, eggs are washed and sanitized, removing the bloom. About 10% of egg packers give eggs a light coating of edible mineral oil to restore the bloom.

– See Cuticle, Oiling, Production

Boiled Frosting

– See Italian Meringue

Bread Pudding

A simple, sweetened custard that is poured over pieces of bread, fruit, nuts or other flavorings and then baked. This classic dessert can be served hot or cold, sometimes with heavy cream or a dessert sauce. A savory version is called a strata.


Processors who convert shell eggs into egg products. Breaking plants are under strict U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. Breaking plants use a fascinating array of modern equipment to break eggs and separate the shell, white and yolk.

– See Egg Products


A quality-control measure to supplement the grading process. The following criteria have been set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to judge egg quality. Sample eggs are selected at random and broken out onto a level surface.

The height of the thick albumen (white) is measured with a tripod micrometer and this measurement is correlated with the weight of the egg to give a Haugh unit measurement. A high Haugh value means high egg quality. At the same time, the condition of the yolk is observed.

The foodservice industry also uses a breakout test to evaluate the quality of eggs purchased. Simple observations of the condition of albumen (white) and yolk are considered adequate; generally the Haugh unit system is not used.

– See Grading, Haugh Unit


Brown Eggs

– See Color Shell



Look for shells that are clean and whole. Cracked eggs are always removed from production, but some may be broken in handling. Don’t use an egg if it’s cracked or leaking.

Proper handling and refrigeration are important factors in maintaining egg quality. Eggs lose quality very rapidly at room temperature, so buy eggs only from refrigerated cases, get them home quickly and refrigerate immediately. At temperatures of 35º to 45ºF (2° to 7ºC), you can store eggs with insignificant quality loss for three to five weeks after you bring them home.

Eggs are marketed according to grade and size standards established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) or by state departments of agriculture. The USDA shield on the egg carton means that the eggs have been graded by U.S. or state department of agriculture representatives for consistency with USDA’s standards for the voluntary grading of shell eggs.

Some egg packers may follow state standards, which must meet or exceed USDA standards. Some states have state seal programs which indicate that the eggs are produced within that state and are subject to continuing state quality checks. All eggs sold at the retail level must meet the standards for Grade B or better.

Size and grade are two entirely different factors and bear no relationship to one another. Grade is determined by the interior and exterior quality of the egg at the time the egg is packed. Size is determined by the average weight per dozen.


Grades (Buying)Egg grades are labeled AA, A and B. There is no difference in nutritive value between the different grades.All eggs sold at the retail level must meet the standards for Grade B or better. Most eggs sold in supermarkets today are Grade AA or A. Although Grade B eggs are just as wholesome to eat, they rate lower in appearance when broken out. Few Grade B eggs find their way to the retail supermarket. Most go to institutional egg users such as bakeries or foodservice operations. – See Breakout, Grading

Sizes (Buying)

Eggs are classified as jumbo, extra large, large, medium, small and peewee. The most common sizes available are medium, large and extra large, because hens most often lay eggs of these sizes. Sizes are classified according to minimum net weight expressed in ounces per dozen.

Which Size to Buy (Buying)

You can use any size egg for most basic egg recipes, including scrambled or fried eggs. However, most recipes for baked goods are formulas in which it’s important to maintain the proper proportion of liquid to dry ingredients and to have enough whole egg, white or yolk to perform the needed functions. Most baking recipes are based on large-sized eggs.(To substitute one size egg for another in recipes, see Size Equivalents.)

Most of the eggs sold in supermarkets are large-sized, but there are occasionally specials on other sizes. Use the following chart to find which size is the best buy.To compare the price of large eggs to the price of medium eggs, for example, run your fingers down the columns to the figures closest to the prices per dozen for large and medium eggs. Then, go across to the price per pound for each size. The one selling for the lower price per pound is the better buy. Always compare the same grade of eggs for an accurate price comparison. – See Grading, Size Equivalents


Inexpensive Egg Protein (Buying)

Protein is an essential part of a nutritious diet but, for many people, foods that supply protein are some of the most expensive items on the grocery list.

Fortunately, the protein supplied by eggs is both high in quality and low in cost. It’s easy to compare the price of eggs to the price of other protein foods. A dozen large eggs weigh 1 1/2 pounds, so the price per pound of large eggs is two-thirds of the price per dozen. For example, if large eggs cost $1.45 per dozen, they cost 97¢ per pound. At $1.75 per dozen, large eggs are only $1.17 per pound.

Another helpful formula is that one egg equals one ounce of lean meat, poultry or fish. This means that you can use two eggs as your main dish at a meal or you can use eggs to “stretch” more expensive protein foods. For instance, you might use one chopped hard-boiled egg per serving along with half the usual amount per serving of expensive seafood in a dish.

 – See Meat Replacement, Protein



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