Carey Wooliver harvests eggs for the Cleveland County Farm Market at Canadian Valley Farms in Lexington.

Eggflation, or the rising cost of eggs, has locals scrambling for eggcellent breakfast and baking alternatives. Others, though, are skipping the store and going straight to the farm or backyard to select cost-effective eggs.

“Eggs are a great source of protein and an important component in food preparation, but their cost has continued to increase, and there can be a wide range of prices among the options,” said Christi Evans, family and consumer science educator at Cleveland County Oklahoma State University Extension.

Evans said that eggs come in many sizes, from medium to jumbo, but some farmers also sell peewee eggs, which are smaller than medium.

“Large eggs are usually the standard recommendation in recipes, but if you plan to make scrambled, fried, poached, or hard boiled eggs, the least expensive size might be the best option,” she said.

At the store, customers can save a little money by purchasing white eggs instead of brown because of the cost. Evans said egg coloration is determined by the breed of chicken and does not indicate the health value of the egg.

“White feathered chickens typically lay white eggs, and chickens with reddish-brown feathers lay brown eggs," she said. "Shell color alone does not indicate the nutritional value or quality of the egg."

The United States Department of Agriculture grades eggs as Grade AA, Grade A, or Grade B based on quality standards. Grade AA and Grade A are the highest quality and the preferred option for baking.

“However, Grade B eggs can be a great option for making hard-boiled eggs,” Evans said.

Other factors affect egg prices, including free-range eggs that come from chickens allowed access to the outdoors. Cage-free eggs are produced by chickens that can roam within an open barn. Organic eggs indicate chickens are fed organic feed and are raised cage-free or free-range.

Vegetarian eggs come from chickens provided a diet free of animal by-products. Omega-3-fortified eggs come from chickens whose feed is supplemented with an omega-3 fatty acid source like flaxseed or fish to increase the quantity of omega-3 delivered by the egg. 

Pasture-raised eggs is a claim which implies that the chickens spend most of their time roaming free on pastureland.

“The USDA does not regulate this term so there are no specific guidelines for the use of this claim,” Evans said.

Shopping for eggs at the farmers’ market might be a great option for some consumers," she said, "as this allows the opportunity to speak directly with the farmers about how their chickens are raised, housed and fed.

“Regardless of the eggs you choose, it’s important to buy eggs that are sold from a refrigerator or refrigerated case. Be sure to open the carton to make sure that the eggs are clean and not cracked,” said Evans.

According to the Cleveland County OSU Extension, eggs should never be out of the refrigerator for more than two hours, and should be stored in their original carton in the coldest part or the refrigerator, not in the door where temperatures fluctuate, and they should be used within three to four weeks of purchase.

“Keep in mind that freezing is an option if you have more eggs than you can use," she said. "To freeze eggs, remove them from their shells, beat yolks and whites together, and place in a sealed container."

To freeze eggs, measure three tablespoons of egg mixture into each compartment of an ice tray. Freeze until solid, then remove the frozen egg cubes and package them in a moisture-vapor resistant container. Three tablespoons of the egg mixture – one cube – equal one whole egg.

Eggs can be frozen for up to one year and should be thawed in the refrigerator, or under cold water in a sealed container.

“It’s also important to always wash your hands, utensils, equipment, and work surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after contact with raw eggs,” she said.

For those who can’t afford eggs, tofu can replace scrambled eggs. To make, Evans said to slightly smash tofu while sautéing to achieve the look of scrambled eggs.

“Add a pinch of turmeric to add an egg-like yellow color,” she said.

Those who want to replace eggs as a leavening agent in baking can mix one tablespoon of chia seeds or flaxseeds with three tablespoons of water and let it stand for five minutes.

“If you need the baked good to rise, add ½ teaspoon baking powder to the chia or flaxseed mixture,” she said.

Other alternatives include using a quarter cup of mashed banana, applesauce, pureed avocado, garbanzo beans or silken tofu to replace each large egg.

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