Sometimes I want extra small eggs, not jumbo
They even seem to taste better, perhaps because they tend to be farmers' eggs. They make darling little hard-boiled or soft-boiled eggs.
But it's hard to find little ones, and I don't want to go as small as quail eggs.
A small egg can weigh as little as 1 ounce,
A jumbo egg can weigh 3 ounces or more.
So when a recipe calls for '4 eggs', does it mean 4 ounces or 12 ounces? (Most probably around 2 ounces each average X 4 = 8 ounces). Since eggs have gotten larger over the years, older recipes should be translated into ounces instead of number of eggs?
In supermarkets, even medium size is hard to find. Everyone is screaming large, extra large, jumbo. Extra value. Have you ever gone after little eggs?
I agree with you grocerytrekker. I like small eggs for deviled eggs and for garnishing salads and some dishes. I've found a store in my area that carries them that's not too far away so I'm willing to make a special trip when I need them for a party but they sell them in a 3-dozen pack. Sort of a pain but they're pretty inexpensive.
The most fun was for Easter when my children were small and I persuaded my regular poultry vendor to order peewee eggs for them to dye. The entire case was more than we needed but they were so adorable that he had no trouble selling them to other customers. They're bigger than quail eggs and much less expensive. Also easier to peel. I wish more stores carried them.
Egg grading has stayed the same over the years. The difference is simply what stores are willing to carry.
I think I can answer a few of your questions and clear up some things. My wife and I sell eggs at the farmers' market in Sault, Michigan. We started with taking eggs there from our hobby flock of bantam chickens, and now have a these plus a laying flock, laying ducks and a couple turkey hens.
The reason small eggs are hard to find is for the very reason you noted - everyone (on the factory farm side) finds bigger eggs to be more economical. You'd be hard pressed to find a strain of bantam chicken that has been bred to give lots of eggs, and unless there's a large demand then the corporations won't be looking for one.
As to egg size, small and medium eggs come from miniture chickens OR from regular chickens that have just started laying. If you find them in the store, it's the later - likely the former at farmers' markets. As to size of yolk, small eggs are proportionately the same as big eggs, though farmers' market eggs are unlikely to be graded so you'll see more variation. (The variation exists in factory eggs too, but eggs with yolks too big or small get sent to make powdered eggs etc.)
Egg size classes have been standard for many generations, so whether a recipe is old or new you can assume they mean "large" unless otherwise stated.
Hope this helps.
When I was growing up in Illinois farm country, I would sometimes find myself in a farm co-op that bought produce and dairy for wholesalers. There was always a board listing what they were paying for the various grades of eggs that week, and there was always a notice saying NO PULLET EGGS...so I guess the market prejudice against little eggs is nothing new.
I too buy my eggs from Trader Joe's - all their eggs are cheaper than any of the other markets here, but their extra-large eggs are priced super-low, 99¢ per dozen. They do have Medium eggs if you want them, but they're about 35¢ more!
Here is a list of the minimum net weight of one dozen eggs by class size according to the USDA:
Extra Large--27 ounces
Here is a link to almost all the information you've ever needed about the egg:
The best eggs I ever had were pullet eggs that I got at the Carborro Farmers' Market in NC. Yes, they were small, but so rich in flavor that I felt more satisfied having a smaller amount of something that tasted so good. ( I usually cook my eggs over easy).
Personally, I don't taste a difference between free-range, vegetarian fed, and standard eggs in the supermarket. I wish I did. I'd been skeptical that farm-fresh eggs could really be all that different in taste. But those pullet eggs (which would probably classify in size as small, maybe even peewee) were phenomenal....
The smallest I have been able to find are mediums and after that quail eggs. I have looked for a long time because I dearly love scotch eggs and regular large sized eggs are just too big.
Most cookbooks will tell you that the egg size called for in a recipe is just a standard large egg. In baking if you use extra large or jumbos you are going to be getting too much liquid in what you are making. The only currently published cookbooks calling for extra large that I have encountered recently are the Barefoot Contessa books.
I don't get to go to farmers' markets as often as I would like to. Also, it's hit or miss when I do make it there. I eat a lot of eggs, so I need a constant supply - I've started to get them at Trader Joe's for convenience.
I like jumbo eggs for baking, etc, but extra small eggs look pretty in salads, etc.
Only the yolk? That'd be really something if it were true. So there would be eggs with 2 ounce yolks? That doesn't sound right...
Have you tried your local famer's market?
Also, and I don't know if this is true, but isn't the difference in the size of an egg really just in the yolk? In other words, the amount of egg white is the same regardless of whether the egg is classified as medium, large, or extra large.