Ingredient focus... eggs
The humble egg has impressive health credentials. Nutritionist Jo Lewin shares recipes, nutritional highlights and tips on choosing a good egg.
Quail eggs have a similar flavour to chicken eggs, but their petite size (five quail eggs are usually equal to one large chicken egg) and pretty, speckled shell have made them popular in gourmet cooking. The shells range in colour from dark brown to blue or white. Quail eggs are often hard-boiled and served with sea salt.
Duck eggs look like chicken eggs but are larger. As with chicken eggs, they are sold in sizes ranging from small to large. Duck eggs have more protein and are richer than chicken eggs, but they also have a higher fat content and more cholesterol. When boiled, the white turns bluish and the yolk turns red-orange.
How to select and store
Choose eggs from free-range or organically raised chickens. Eggs should always be visually inspected before buying. It is best to check for cracks or liquid in the box to ensure there are no broken ones. Eggs are best stored in the refrigerator where they may remain for up to one month (check the best-before-date on the box). Eggs with higher omega-3 fatty acid content are best eaten as early as possible to keep these oils fresh.
The main safety concern is risk of salmonella food poisoning. The best protection is to cook eggs at a high enough temperature for a long enough period of time, meaning poached, scrambled and hard boiled eggs carry a much lower salmonella risk. Another safety concern regarding eggs is that they are a common food allergen, particularly among young children. See your GP if you have any concerns regarding allergies to eggs. Substitutes can be used to bind ingredients together but they are not as good at helping mixtures rise. If using a replacement for eggs in baking, adding a little extra baking powder may help.
Top tip... A fresh egg will sink in water, a stale one will float
Eggs are paramount to a number of classic recipes so here are just a few of our favourites:
Healthy egg and chips - can it be true?
Healthy egg & chips
Classic spaghetti carbonara:
... and tarts...
Custard tart with nutmeg pastry
Lightest ever meringues
Try more of our favourite egg recipes
Jo Lewin holds a degree in nutritional therapy and works as a community health nutritionist and private consultant. She is an accredited member of BANT, covered by the association's code of ethics and practice.