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How to Cook Eggs

Preparing Eggs

Is there any other single food more versatile than the egg? Eggs are simple and economical, yet elegant, and can be prepared in a variety of ways. Eggs can be cooked in their own shell, fried in sizzling butter, or poached in a flavorful liquid. You can easily prepare eggs for one or for a crowd.

Basic egg preparation is essential information for any cook, so we have compiled some fundamental information on the amazing egg.

Buying and Storing Eggs

Eggs are sold by grade and size, but neither one is a measure of freshness.

The three grade classifications are: AA, A, and B. The grade is based on the thickness of the white, the firmness of the yolk, and the size of the interior air pocket. High-grade eggs (AA) have firm, compact, rounded yolks with thick whites. The color of the egg shell (white or brown) is determined by the breed of the chicken and does not affect flavor, quality, nutrients, or cooking characteristics of the egg.

There are six size classifications for eggs:

Size Description
Jumbo at least 30 ounces per dozen
Extra-Large at least 27 ounces per dozen
Large at least 24 ounces per dozen
Medium at least 21 ounces per dozen
at least 18 ounces per dozen
at least 15 ounces per dozen

Size classification is determined by the minimum weight allowed per dozen. Most recipes that call for eggs were developed using large eggs. Unless otherwise specified in the recipe, always use large eggs.

Select clean, unbroken eggs from refrigerated cases. Always puchase eggs as fresh as possible. The USDA requires that egg cartons display the packing date, which is indicated by a number representing the day of the year. For example, January 1 is day 1 and December 31 is day 365.  An expiration date (month and day) may also be displayed. This is the last sale date and must not exceed 30 days after the packing date.

Refrigerate eggs immediately after purchasing and store them in the coldest part of the refrigerator, in their original package, with the pointed ends facing down. Don't store eggs in refrigerator bins or open containers, as eggshells are porous and can easily absorb odors and bacteria from other foods.

Egg substitutes are made almost entirely with egg whites (about 80 percent), plus artificial color and stabilizers. With no egg yolks, egg substitutes don't behave the same way as eggs do in baking -- at the minimum, cookies come out drier using egg substitutes, but there may be other differences as well.

Knowing how to separate an egg will come in handy when cooking and baking. Learn more on the next page.

Want more information? Try these:

  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.
  • Egg Recipes: Who knew there were so many different ways to prepare eggs? You'll find some delicious varieties on our Egg Recipes page.
  • Breakfast Recipes: Start the morning off right with these scrumptious breakfast options.