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Dec 13, 2009 04:04 PM

Farm Fresh Eggs

Today at the farmer's market I bought some eggs and asked how they were different from the ones in the grocery store. She said that they are fresher, layed within the past 3 days. When I looked at the date on the carton it stated, "JAN 6", and when I went to the grocery store it stated "JAN 5". So what's going on here? Thanks.

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  1. Your question is why do the farm eggs expire one day after the store-bought eggs? My farmer re-uses cartons, so the date on the carton is meaningless. Is that possibly the case here? I'm not sure what the guidelines are for dating farm eggs. Eggs in the grocery store are on average 3 weeks old, I have been told. We love farm fresh eggs - the whites are clear, not cloudy, the yolks sits up high, and we think they taste better.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jeanmarieok

      We prefer farm fresh eggs for all of the above reasons and feel lucky to have them readily available. We recycle egg cartons too. I ignore the dates on the cartons and just returned six with a range of dates to the fellow from whom I buy eggs, and will probably get some of them back before too long.

      1. re: janeh

        In that case that would make sense. I thought maybe Trader Joe's (where I spotted the JAN 5 date) is able to get them on the shelves extra-fast in which case it wouldn't matter was what I was thinking.

    2. You wanna try the best? Get a duck egg(domestic) that's a couple of days old. Fry that baby over easy with some corned beef hash or top of the line ham, you're in heaven. Farm fresh eggs are great too, the more orange the yolk, the fresher.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mrbigshotno.1

        I used to buy duck eggs and I agree they are delicious but then I realized I got a stomach ache each time after eating them which does not occur with chicken eggs. Very annoying.

      2. For grocery store eggs the "Sell By" date doesn't really tell you when the egg was laid. For commercial, USDA graded eggs the carton needs two dates on it. The first is the "Pack Date", which is the date the egg was washed, graded and placed in the carton. This is always expressed as a 'Julian date', a number between 1 and 365 which represents the day of the year. The second required date is the "Sell By" date; this date can be no more than 45 days after the pack date. (For examples see this link: ). The eggs may be stored for an unspecified amount of time before they are packed. The sell by clock doesn't start ticking until they are packed.

        For facilities not under USDA inspection dating and labeling requirements will vary by state.

        4 Replies
        1. re: kmcarr

          Very interesting, thanks for the info!

          1. re: yoyo28

            Also farm fresh eggs aren't washed (at least mine aren't, it's very obvious) and until that outer layer is washed off (as in a USDA factory) the eggs are good, at room temp, for an indeterminate amount of time. I've heard of farmers storing all their eggs under straw for the entire winter when the hens stop laying. So any date would be totally unnecessary.

            1. re: coll

              I checked and the shells are clean so I imagined washed. She sold from different farms, the packaging looked just like from the grocery, and they weren't reused because each farm had the same packaging.

              Maybe this seller is just a reseller, so maybe not as good as direct from the farm, but better than the grocery.

              1. re: yoyo28

                My farm has over a thousand chickens (and ducks, and geese, she is like a repository for unwanted poultry) running all over the place, amazingly I seldom see any run over though. (She's on a main road, and they are always all along the edge) Her eggs are sold in grocery cartons, but they are all totally different from each other and you can tell they are recycled. Her eggs have straw and brown stuff stuck all over them, I didn't used to mind when they were $2 but this year she jumped up to $4, I said to myself, at that price, she should at least wipe them off !

                Maybe all the farms chipped in and bought a truckload of cartons?

        2. Oh, my! Are they EVER fresher! I can buy eggs from my farmer lady and lose them in the downstairs fridge, find them a month later and they're STILL fresher than ones bought at the store the day before...(you can test this by submerging an egg in a bowl of water. If it lies flat--very fresh; tilts; still good but not great (however, this is best for hard boiling); if it stands up it's getting geriatric but still okay for baking; if it floats THROW IT AWAY!).

          My egg suppliers re-use cartons, too. To help me keep track I just write the *actual* purchase date on each carton with a marker, the day I get them...

          Farm fresh eggs usually have deeper yellow--even orange--yolks, the whites stand up in a pan instead of spreading out in a watery mess, and they taste so much better it's ridiculous.

          Here's a pic of a spankin' fresh egg in my Griswold:

          8 Replies
            1. re: Beckyleach

              The color of the egg yolks is a derivative of the chicken feed, not freshness. However, tall firm yolks and a white that doesn't spread like water is a good sign of freshness.

              1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

                How well the white holds together is usually the best sign of freshness, but it can also indicate a young layer versus one who is ready for the stew pot.

                1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

                  This is true. A pastured or free range chicken will have a deeper colored yolk than one that is caged and grained or one that is allowed to run in a pen but is still mostly grained with little greens or veg. Sometimes a "farm fresh egg" will not look very different from a store egg other than the way it sits in the pan. It depends on how the flock is husbanded. The yellow of the yolk can actually be boosted and deepened with the addition of marigold petals to the diet.

                  1. re: morwen

                    I buy organic eggs from Costco which are from cage-free hens fed all-vegetarian diets. The yolks, while still yellow, are a much deeper shade and just look much more appealing to eat.

                    1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

                      I just bought "cage free" eggs at my local grocery, mainly because they were on sale and the cheapest at the time. When I got home, I saw they were laid in Colorado with some kind of license in Texas. Since I'm only using them for baking Christmas cookies, fine, but I'd really prefer my eggs to be at least from the East coast.

                  2. re: taiwanesesmalleats

                    Yep, sorry...was typing in a hurry. The egg in the picture is from *really* free range (I've seen them; they wander all over the farm) chickens, eating all the little buggies they desire.

                    1. re: Beckyleach

                      Ours are considered "pastured", which we do in order to defend our small gardens from them. We're steading on 3 acres and while I'd love to let the chickens run, they tend to eat all the seedlings and greens in the gardens as well as bugs. We have portable runs that we move around the grassy areas, edges of the gardens, and in the orchard. This way they never munch a particular area down to bare earth, get their fill of bugs and greens, and fertilize at the same time. When we want to break an area for a new garden or planting we do park them there for awhile and let them remove the vegetation and bugs, and fertilize before we till. The runs also protect them from daytime predators and any dogs or cats that might have a taste for really fresh poultry.

                2. Thanks for bringing this up. i've been meaning to ask about farm fresh eggs.
                  My local farm stand sells their own eggs, and I'm tempted to purchase. However a friend of mine said sometimes you can get one in which the chick has started growing. How common is this? It is kind of off-putting to me, and is the reason I haven't tried the farm eggs.

                  12 Replies
                  1. re: jujuthomas

                    Some people actually want fertilized eggs. Anyway I've never gotten one that I'm aware of, and I buy most of my eggs from the local farmer. Everyone's sort of vague about the actual process...I guess if the roosters never come near the hens, then there's no way in h*ll it can be fertilized ;+}

                    OK of course I had to look it up, but now I can't find the link... To paraphrase: a rooster mates with a hen in the normal way before the egg develops (something I always wondered about). Hens lay eggs every day whether they are fertilized or not. Sometimes there is blood in the egg but that is not a fertile egg, a fertile egg has a white spot and actual veins of blood. But unless the egg is incubated it will NOT turn into a baby. Therefore, unless they leave the egg under the mother hen for a week or two, which they would do on purpose to make chicks (21 days total), there is not going to be an actual embryo in there.

                    BTW lots of people will tell you that the fertilized egg (with just the white spot) tastes better and is healthier for you. Not that I'm running out to find some!

                    1. re: coll

                      Thanks Coll for the information!

                      1. re: jujuthomas

                        Hope it wasn't too much information ;-) but I always wondered too.

                      2. re: coll

                        Just think of it as if the hen were "ovulating" every day, instead of every month, like a female human.

                        The eggs are "laid" every day even when not fertilized....

                      3. re: jujuthomas

                        Hens don't require a rooster to lay eggs. We don't keep a rooster, we simply buy more chicks when we need to boost our hen population. You can buy sexed runs or straight runs. We buy straight runs because they're cheaper and when they're old enough (which is usually well before the males figure out how to procreate) we relegate the males to the freezer. If you are buying direct from the farmer ask if they keep roosters. If they do you may get a fertilized egg. The odds of getting one with a semi developed chick are pretty low because once that egg is removed from the nest conditions for development of the embryo deteriorate quickly. And most farmers (unless they are increasing their flocks) discourage the hens from becoming "broody" which is what keeps the eggs at the right temp and humidity for development. (Of course, that applies if the hens return to the coop every night. Most farmers shut the flock in at night to avoid predators. Some farmers allow their free range flock to nest anywhere and collecting eggs then becomes a treasure hunt. How old are the eggs and are they fertile become issues if you want to avoid fertile eggs and partial chicks.) If the grower doesn't keep a rooster you have nothing to worry about.

                        1. re: morwen

                          I am so glad we are having this discussion, it's like it's not polite to discuss it for some reason.

                          1. re: coll

                            it's very interesting! Thanks so much for the information. :)

                          2. re: morwen

                            Just an aside: when our hens got broody and we didn't want to "set" the recommended treatment was to take the hen and put her in a gunny sack and shake her up and down.

                            Hubby never could bring himself to do this. ;-) He just kept picking the girls out of the nest boxes and taking them back outside, over and over and over...A very labor-intensive process which explains why we didn't become Chicken Professionals.

                            1. re: Beckyleach

                              Wow! Never heard of that cure, nor would I employ it either. I do what your hubby did- chase the girls off the nests in the morning, remove any eggs, and then shut them out of the coop for the day. That usually removes any urge to brood after a couple of days.

                            2. re: morwen

                              I had a flock of thirty or more for some years and always kept a rooster to protect the flock, and they also did this wonderful corral thing each evening. The rooster would actually assemble his flock and marh them to roost each night.

                              I made the mistake once of purchasing a rather large, almost dog sized, rooster from a kindly amish man. I quickly found out why he auctioned this fantastic specimen off to me. He was meaner than a badger and had talons the size of an eagle, He tried to chase me around the barnyard a few times and I finely had to pen him up.

                              The good roosters will actually fight off predators that somehow sneak into the hen house, but would always lose the battle. But they save the flock. I had mostly Araucana and Ameraucanas that laid the colored eggs. And many of the Plymouth and Rhode Island Reds. You can usually tell the color of the egg shell based on their ear lobes. White lobe, white egg. Red lobe, brown egg.

                              I know I have posted some on this subject before and left photos, so I won't again. But if you can, I suggest raising yardbirds. Great fun. And you get VERY popular with the neighbors.

                              And it is true about the dates on the carton. I would get neighbors dropping off a large collection of cartons anonymously, and I would also buy very large stashes of them at amish chicken auctions that were (are) held a few times a month. The dates were meaningless. But rest assured, generally speaking, if you bought the eggs from the farmer the eggs were no doubt a few days old at best and these eggs can last a very long time. But why would they? An egg is a terrible thing to waste!

                              1. re: DallasDude

                                We don't keep any guard animals because our upper neighbors' labs roam freely between our properties at night and their presence seems to do a pretty good job considering we have fox dens on both sides of our combined properties. The neighbors below us keep a small goat in their chicken yard and she serves 3 purposes for them: she's a pretty vigilant guard, the hens actually cuddle up around her in the coop in cold weather, and she provides milk and meat on a regular basis. They did have a rooster but he didn't seem to have much sense or a purpose in life and disappeared one day. We think he tried to take on a fox.

                            3. re: jujuthomas

                              Well...we raised chickens for about six years. We had about 30 chickens. We did our best to collect them faithfully twice a day. In six years I had one "OOOPS!" out of all the eggs we cracked/ate.

                              But once is kinda enough. Bleah.