Sunday, April 7, 2013

Equal time for ducks: More on washing farm-fresh eggs

Thanks for all your comments and feedback on my recent post about whether homegrown eggs should be washed. It occurred to me (after the fact, as usual) that when I wrote it, I was really just thinking about chicken eggs. Probably this is because we wash more chicken eggs every day than anything else, and probably also because every single thing I've ever read on the subject of washing eggs referred only to chicken eggs.

As you know, we raise laying ducks as well as chickens. Right now we're collecting an average of 28 duck eggs every day. The ducks have let me know, in no uncertain terms, that they want their moment of Internet fame; their eggs are not the same as chicken eggs, and washing them is also somewhat different from washing chicken eggs.

In my last post, I referred to the "bloom" on fresh eggs. Well, with duck eggs, this bloom is apparently not the same as the bloom on chicken eggs. First, I've found it takes more effort to clean the bloom from duck eggs. The WSDA recommends using a medium sandpaper (100 or 120 grit) to gently clean eggs when warm water alone is not enough.

Also, the bloom on duck eggs has a very distinct, uh, aroma. Even when the eggs look fairly clean, they still have a bit of a barnyard smell to them (I'm trying really hard to be diplomatic; our ducks are very sensitive). This alone is good reason to clean off that bloom.

Duck egg shells are quite a bit stronger than chicken egg shells, which may account for the fact that duck eggs have a longer shelf life. So again, the argument that removing the bloom shortens shelf life doesn't seem to apply.

With laying ducks, keeping the area where they lay eggs clean is just as important as with chickens. It's a little trickier, though, with ducks, as they don't seem all that inclined to lay in nest boxes. They also are quite messy little things, and it takes some effort to keep the bedding in their coops clean and dry. I mentioned that I sometimes find a chicken egg that doesn't require cleaning; this is pretty much never true of duck eggs, at least in our experience.

Our organic duck eggs are sold in the Sequim area at Sunny Farms, Nash's Organic Produce, The Red Rooster Grocery, and at Dungeness Valley Creamery. And of course they are also featured at the wonderful Alder Wood Bistro. If you've never eaten a duck egg, do try ours, if you're in the neighborhood. They are super-fresh, and I swear they're clean.