Eat Good Food

Which Egg Should You Use?

In the spring, our Larder is always stocked with a quantity of quail, duck, and hen eggs that are ready for use at Easter and beyond. But which egg do you need today? Choosing among quail, duck, and hen eggs presents a variety of options.

Here is our guide to help you choose between these eggs of different shapes, sizes, and colors.

Hen Eggs
Commercial egg production in the U.S. has its roots here in Sonoma County. Known as the town of Butter and Eggs, Petaluma hosted the country’s first egg ranch in 1918, and by 1929 had the country’s largest hatchery.

In our Healdsburg store, the pasture-raised hen eggs come from our own HomeFarm as well as Noci Sonoma, our neighbors just down the road.

Hens naturally lay fewer eggs in the winter when days are short, and production begins to steadily increase as the days lengthen.

A hen does not need a rooster to lay eggs, and releases one at a time after reaching fix or six months of age. Typically, a hen can lay an egg in about 24 hours, and has the potential to produce regularly for a few years, if not longer.

Hen eggs contain all the B vitamins, including choline, needed to support nervous system function.

From whole to separated, from cooked in the shell to fried or raw, the possibilities for cooking with hen eggs are endless. We love them poached and served on polenta with wild mushrooms or slid atop levian toast with greens. We love them gently scrambled with fresh butter and herbs. We love them every way!

Quail Eggs
Our Coturnix quail eggs are sourced from Alchemist Farm and Garden.

Quails begin to produce eggs at eight weeks of age. Their eggs are much smaller than the average hen egg, weighing about 9 grams (as opposed to hen eggs, which weigh about 50 grams each.) The shell is gray with brown spots, and the egg overall is about the size of a grape tomato.

With a larger yolk-to-white ratio than hen eggs, the membrane located between the shell and the quail egg is also thicker, and sometimes difficult to crack. To open, push the tip of a sharp paring knife into the shell about one-third of the way down, cut back and forth gently, and pull of the top of the shell.

It’s not unusual to see quail eggs served raw in sushi bars, and they also make for great pickled eggs. Conveniently, they take just three minutes to hard-boil and two minutes to soft-boil. Consider serving quail eggs atop pizza!

Duck Eggs
Our duck eggs are sourced from Washoe Duck Farm just south of us. Washoe’s ducks are pasture-raised on 10 acres using rotational grazing with mobile fencing. These happy birds forage a good portion of their diet.

Duck eggs are around 50 percent larger and more nutrient-dense than hen eggs, with more protein, omega-3s, and B-12 vitamins packed into each one. Duck eggs have rich, thick yolks with three times the cholesterol of chicken eggs.

The richness of duck eggs makes them well-suited to balance the freshness of spring peas and beans in a frittata. Substituting duck eggs for hen eggs in meringues and cakes can help create an airier structure. In Asia, duck eggs are often salted and preserved.

Confused about free-range vs. cage-free eggs? Here’s our glossary of the different terms. (Pssst: look for ‘pastured.’)

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