tasting of local eggs: an unscientific experiment
Over the past several years, I have usually purchased eggs from the Marin Farmers Market, which brings them from several Petaluma farms, or I have bought some of the commonly found area eggs labeled Judy's or Rock Island. Then I discovered at Whole Foods a Petaluma-located egg provider named Uncle Eddie's Wild Hen Farm. These were better than any other egg I had been able to get on a regular basis. I did some taste comparisons, and Uncle Eddie's won.
Still more recently, and following several rave mentions on this list, I tried some Marin Sun Farm eggs. Now, I was prepared to love these because I drive past the chickens that produce these eggs a couple of times a month when I head to Pt. Reyes beaches. (H Ranch, for any others who travel out Pierce Point Road.) They looked great hopping around their meadow with the beef cattle in a pasture nearby. But they seemed no better than the Uncle Eddie's although definitely superior to the others.
I had some Uncle Eddies eggs left from an earlier purchase and I got a fresh dozen of Marin Sun Farms. I tried a side-by-side tasting, soft boiling one of each in the same pot of water for the same length of time. Eddies has white shells, Marin has brown.They each had very healthy, firm and very dark yellow yolks. Both tasted equally wonderfully eggy. Then as I was had almost finished with the Marin Farms dozen, I got a fresh dozen of Uncle Eddies and did it again. Same results. Both were grade AA extra-large, by the way.
The only notable difference (aside from shell color) was that Marin Sun eggs were $6 per dozen and Uncle Eddies were $2.47. Hmm. Mabye for less that half the price, I will forgo the eggs from my buddies in the Pt. Reyes meadows and go to the one Whole Foods Market that carries the Uncle Eddies. (One of the WF Markets near me carries them the other one does not; they may be hard to find.) Other than the entertaining messages on the egg carton, I have found no information on Uncle Eddies Wild Hen Farm; they have no web site. Anyone know anything about them?
According to the SF Chronicle article that I've linked below, most eggs sold in the Bay Area come from only a few sources, even though they have different labels and brand names. Petaluma Farms, Chino Valley Ranchers, and NuCal Foods are the umbrella farms that sell almost all brands of eggs sold around here. I wonder how they decide which brands to sell where.
Here's the link to the article:
That article had me wondering about my own taste buds too. Whatever anyone ways, though, there are a lot of eggs that taste better than your average Safeway egg, hands down. One factor I'm convinced is at work is freshness: Safeway eggs simply sit in the store longer than eggs from any farmers market.
I did a semi-scientific test one morning. Four people got one Safeway egg and one Marin sun farm egg each. Two had eggs over easy, another had them over medium, and the last requested scrambled (separately). Everyone was able to, in two bites, tell me which egg was which. I guess I shouldn't count myself, but of the other three one was my BF, who knew in advance what we were expecting from Marin Sun Farms. The other two were visitors to SF who were simply asked "Taste these two and tell me which one you like better."
I will say this about Marin Sun Farm eggs: the color of the yolks varies quite a bit from egg to egg, ranging from almost orange to canary yellow. If you ask the farmers they'll tell you that differences in color, size, and yolk are simply a result of the variety of breeds they have.
Chino Valley Farms, for better or for worse, has a more standarized product. Their eggs are bigger, yolks are firm and dark yellow, and they cost a little more than half the price of Marin Sun Farm eggs. It's hard to tell without a side by side comparison if Chino Valley is better than Marin Sun Farms, but that's exactly why I'm sticking to Chino Valley for now.
Safeway eggs are now relegated to cooking that doesn't involve whole eggs.
re: Nancy Berry
After reading about the recent [August 18, 2010] recall of 228 million eggs, including some brand names that I occasionally buy, I decided to check the egg cartons in my fridge to see if they were affected by the recall. (they were not).
I did, however, make an interesting discovery!
Uncle Eddie's Wild Hen Farm: CA Plant Number #06-1002
Judy's Family Farm: CA Plant Number #06-1002
Hmm... that's odd. Turns out, they are both made by Petaluma Egg Farm:
I don't think there is anything evil or nefarious going on here, but the way the packaging reads it would lead a person to believe that "Judy's Family Farm" and "Uncle Eddie's Wild Hen Farm" are different farms, when in fact they are two buildings on the same farm.
I guess I shouldn't complain about that though... according to the recall, those 228 million eggs from Wright County Egg in Iowa "were distributed around the country and packaged under the names Lucerne, Albertson, Mountain Dairy, Ralph's, Boomsma's, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms and Kemp."
Oh well. Our food supply is insane.
I didn't read about the egg recall. Thanks for posting. Those are all storebrands.
Judy's and Uncle Eddie's are different. Judy's are brown. Eddie's are white and vegetarian diet. Both are cage free. They may be brands on the same farm--even in the same building--but they aren't the exact same chickens or eggs.
In my experience, the single most important quality in the taste of eggs is freshness. My favorite eggs (Haney Egg Farm, sold at Alemany Farmers' Market) are not expensive.
Diet and ethical treatment are valid concerns, but freshness affects both flavor and texture.
Alemany Farmers' Market
100 Alemany Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94110
It sounds almost like you're saying that all eggs are from a few suppliers. Is this true of Farmers' Mkt. eggs as well? Are some of those from folks who raise their own hens and gather the eggs? Plz. advz.
I've seen some recent posts (past couple of months) about great Farmers' Mkt. eggs....were these folks just deluding themselves?
The eggs I buy from B & B at the Berkeley FM are definitely not from another source; I've talked to the farmer on several occasions. (Besides, Berkely requires farmers to post a sign on their stand with detailed information about the farm). B & B has a free range chicken farm located outside of Leggit in Mendocino County. In the Bay Area, they distribute exclusively at the Berkeley FM.
What I have seen at the Marin Farmers Market is a large stand selling only eggs of a variety of sizes which I think (having read the link to the Chron egg piece) may indeed be from the one big Petaluma source mentioned. However, in addition to Marin Sun Farms, there are also eggs offered among the produce by several other growers where eggs seem to be a sideline to the produce.
I find the eggs at Trader Joe's to be very good, far better than either Safeway or Costco. The jumbos are very large and it is almost without fail that at least one egg in a dozen has a double yoke. Plus, I think they go through lots of them so they are very fresh.
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Last year, I bought some Soul Food Farm eggs at Fatted Calf. They were rich, (almost too rich), the yolks were a bright orange. It was the best egg, I've ever had.
Since then, I've been trying to replicate that experience, buying eggs at farmer's markets directly from the source. I even join join the Sould Food Farms CSA. Their eggs are suppose to be laid that day or the day before. All of the eggs were good, but just not the eggs of yore.
Are there other eggs that PP have tried, besides the ones already mentioned?...
644-C First Street, Napa, CA 94559
Soul Food Farm
6046 Pleasants Valley Rd, Vacaville, CA 95688