The ultimate guide to eggs

We explain the difference between types of eggs, plus how to cook and store them...

Box of eggs

Every year, we eat around 11.5 billion eggs in the UK. They’re a fabulous convenience food, and a natural source of nutrients and protein, as well as rich in vitamin B2, B12 and D. We explain the different varieties, the best way to cook them, and how to store them safely. 

Quails eggQuail egg

Time to boil: Soft boil - 30 secs. Hard boil - 1 min.

Taste: Very similar to hen’s eggs, but slightly richer due to the high yolk to white ratio.

Uses: A good size for canapés. Simply boil and dip in celery salt. Also ideal for mini Scotch eggs, or poached to garnish soups.

 

 

hens eggHen egg

Time to boil: Medium Soft boil: 2½-3 mins, hard boil: 6-7 mins. Large Soft boil: 3½-4 mins, hard boil: 9-10 mins.

Taste: Varies according to bird variety, diet, method of rearing and how the eggs are stored. Shell colour is no indication of flavour or quality.

Uses: Fry, scrambleboil, poach, bake or coddle for your breakfast, or use in soufflés, meringues, puddings, cakes and sauces.
 

Duck eggDuck egg

Time to boil: Soft boil - 3½-4 mins, hard boil - 9-10 mins.

Taste:  The larger yolk gives these eggs a creamier taste than hen’s eggs.

Uses: Delicious fried or boiled for a special breakfast, or use to make richer custards. Steeped in tea, they are an aromatic delicacy in China.

 

Turkey eggTurkey egg

Time to boil: Soft boil - 4-5 mins, hard boil - 10-11 mins.

Taste: Very high yolk to white ratio. Also much creamier than hen’s eggs.

Uses: Delicious fried, poached or boiled.




 

Goose eggGoose egg

Time to boil: Soft boil - 9-10 mins, hard boil - 13 mins.

Taste: Rich and creamy, these are roughly the equivalent of two hen’s eggs.

Uses: Perfect size for an omelette but also tasty scrambled. Or serve soft-boiled with asparagus for dunking.




Ostrich eggOstrich egg

Time to boil: Soft boil - 50 mins, hard boil - 1½-2 hrs.

Taste: Similar to hen’s eggs in taste and texture, although some find the taste a bit more gamey.

Uses: Roughly the equivalent to 24 hen’s eggs, and a great novelty at EasterBoil and serve with soldiers, letting everyone get stuck in.

 

Top tips for storing and using eggs

Fried egg• When baking cakes, it’s important to use eggs at room temperature. This will help to prevent the mixture from splitting, which can result in a heavier cake.

To bring fridge-cold eggs to room temperature quickly, immerse in a bowl of warm (not hot) water for a few minutes.

Slightly older eggs are better for meringues. They’re also easier to separate, and easier to peel when hard-boiled.

If you’re not sure how old your egg is, lower it into a glass of water. A fresh egg will sink to the bottom, whereas the older an egg is, the higher it will float. 

• Store eggs at a constant temperature below 20C to maintain freshness. In most domestic kitchens, the fridge is the best place – however, take them out of the fridge half an hour before cooking. For baking, take them out of the fridge the night before. 

• Eggs are extremely porous and will absorb any smells around them, so store away from strong-smelling food.

More egg know-how

How to buy eggs
Egg glossary 
Egg recipe collection
How to poach an egg
The health benefits of eggs 
Bill Granger's guide to cooking eggs

Get perfect poached eggs everytime with our 'how to' video.

Do you have any egg recipes or tips to share? We'd love to hear your ideas... 

Comments, questions and tips

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decomble's picture
decomble
30th Aug, 2014
I've found a simple way of separating yolks:- break the egg into a saucer, then, with an empty (see-through) plastic water bottle (say 500ml), squeeze some air out of the bottle, then place the mouth over the yolk, and gently release the pressure on the bottle. The yolk is sucked up into the bottle. Works every time - no messing with shells!!
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dhunter
7th Oct, 2015
I seem to always have egg whites left over..after making mayonnaise, or using a yolk to glaze a pie top or whatever. I put the whites or white into the smallest sized plastic seal bag. Scribble on the date, egg size & how many whites there are. Freeze the bag lying flat..it later can be "stood up" & store them in a position where they don't get lost in the freezer They make the best meringues possible! Just defrost bag overnight before using.
decomble's picture
decomble
30th Aug, 2014
I've found a simple way of separating yolks:- break the egg into a saucer, then, with an empty (see-through) plastic water bottle (say 500ml), squeeze some air out of the bottle, then place the mouth over the yolk, and gently release the pressure on the bottle. The yolk is sucked up into the bottle. Works every time - no messing with shells!!