Frequently asked questions

General Egg Facts: freshness, code date, handling, etc.

Are your eggs local from Vancouver Island?

All our eggs come from British Columbia. Unfortunately, Vancouver Island is not self-sufficient. Although many of our eggs come from Vancouver & Gabriola Island producers, we do need to supplement supply with eggs that are produced on the Lower Mainland.

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Why do your competitors have ‘SPCA’ certification on their cartons and you don’t?

We follow strict animal welfare regulations and standards which ensure that the birds are well taken care of. All our producers are audited by outside firms to ensure that they are following all animal health regulations to ensure that their birds are receiving the best of care. Our Organic producers go through a very strict yearly audit by Ecocert Organic.

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Are Island Gold and Naturegg eggs fresh?

We pick up eggs from the producers that sell to our grading station on average twice a week. We rotate our inventory completely every week in our grading station. Our stores receive deliveries of eggs at least twice per week. In fact, the eggs once they reach the grocer should be no more than 10 days old and many get there within 2 days of being laid.

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How can you tell when an egg is fresh?

Firstly, there is no difference nutritionally between a day old egg and a 2 month old egg as long as they are held at the proper temperature (0 to 8° C). However, the functional properties of fresh eggs are better than old eggs (e.g. they perform better in baking and in meringues). Old eggs resemble fresh eggs in many ways and sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between the two. If you crack an egg open and it spreads all over the pan then it is not fresh. What happens as an egg ages is that air diffuses into the shell breaking down the internal contents (denaturing the proteins for the more technical types). This causes the bonds in the molecules that comprise the egg to break down and the egg does not hold together as well. Fresher eggs stand up better when you cook them and are much nicer to work with.

To test if eggs are fresh, put them in some water and see if they float. If they do, then the air cell is quite large, indicating that the eggs are not fresh.

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Do I have to keep my eggs refrigerated?

Yes, you should keep your eggs refrigerated. Government regulations are very strict in Canada to the point that we have one of the safest food chains in the world. Eggs must be kept refrigerated at all times. This includes at the henhouse, the grading station, the grocery store and your home. Refrigeration limits the growth of bacteria. It also keeps the egg 7 times fresher than leaving it out of refrigeration. This means that an egg in refrigeration will keep 7 times longer than one that is not. It is important to refrigerate eggs, but if a dozen is left out for a few days, be sure to cook it fully, and this will kill any harmful bacteria that may develop. This would mean scrambling, hard boiling or using them in baking, instead of Sunnyside up. The yolk should not be runny.

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Should I put my eggs into the little egg trays supplied by the refrigerator manufacturer?

No. Eggs are very porous, meaning that the shell has tiny little holes through which air can escape and enter the egg. The egg will absorb strong odours in the fridge, like onions for example. Therefore it is best to leave eggs in the carton and use that little tray for something else.

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When I crack the egg open the whites run all over, making it difficult to fry.

As eggs get older the stability of the whites weakens and results in eggs that appear flat and runny. Use fresh eggs from young hens for the best possible quality. Eggs from older hens tend to have thinner whites, but have the same nutritional value.

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Can I eat eggs past the Code Date?

On average, a 28 to 35 day code is put on eggs to ensure maximum freshness and Grade A quality. Eggs up to a month past the code date are still safe to eat. It is some of the functional properties that might not be as good (e.g. they may not bind cakes together as well). The rate at which quality is lost depends on many factors including handling and storage practices, and temperatures. To be safe, it is best to thoroughly cook any eggs that are past their code date or eggs that have been out of refrigeration for several days that may be within the code date. That means that yolks should not be runny.

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Can I eat Pee Wee eggs without yolks? How are Double Yolk eggs formed?

Pee Wee eggs come from young hens. The reproductive systems of young hens are not fully developed and sometimes they will lay eggs without yolks. Sometimes they will also lay eggs with 2 yolks. Double yolked eggs are like having twins. If you look at the shape of the shell there is usually a ridge in the middle, which makes them look like two eggs that have been pushed together, which is essentially what the chicken has done. It is safe to eat both doubles and Pee Wee eggs with no yolks.

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The yolks are pale. Are they still okay to eat?

The colour of the yolk is dependent on the diet of the bird. Feed containing a large percentage of wheat, barley and oats produces lighter yolks and feed containing a large percentage of corn produces darker yolks. We grade mainly locally produced eggs. Eggs from Ontario and Quebec are produced by hens fed predominantly corn based diets and therefore Ontario and Quebec consumers are used to dark yolks. Egg from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia are produced by hens fed predominantly wheat based diets, therefore, Western Canada consumers are used to light coloured yolks.

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How do I make hard boiled eggs that peel easily?

The trick to hard boiling eggs, believe it or not, is to use mature eggs! Eggs should be purchased at least one week in advance. The egg has a membrane that surrounds the white and yolk and this sticks to the shell. As the egg ages, air diffuses into the egg and comes between this membrane and the shell. Eggs that are between 10 and 21 days old are probably the best for hard boiling. Cook them for 10 minutes for hardboiled and 3 minutes for soft boiled.

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How do I cook an egg in the microwave?

Sprinkle a little salt into a microwave-safe custard cup or ramekin. Crack an egg into the cup and use a fork to prick an "X" into the yolk. Cover with a lid or plate. Cook on MED-HIGH for 40 seconds for a semi-soft cooked egg or 45 seconds for a hard cooked egg.

Tip: Position yolks in the centre of the cup for even cooking.

NOTE: Microwave ovens may vary in power. The microwave used for these tests was 1200 W.

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