I think most folks would agree that homegrown food not only tastes better, but it’s better for you as well.
The process of tending a vegetable gardening or keeping a flock of chickens is satisfying in so many ways. And personally, I think the irregularities of homegrown food add to its beauty and charm.
However, there are a lot of folks who are so accustomed to the uniform, “everything must look exactly the same” food from the grocery store, that they can sometimes be alarmed by some of the aspects of farm fresh food.
Take eggs for example– they are a big part of homestead life.
Store-bought eggs are all exactly the same size… The shells are all exactly the same shade of white, and the yolks are exactly the same (pale) shade of yellow.
Contrast that with a carton of farm-fresh eggs from my flock of chickens:
- Sometimes you’ll get a double-yolker…
- Sometimes the shells range from light brown, to dark brown, to the prettiest shade of aqua…
- Sometimes you’ll find a speck or two of sawdust on the shells… (Here are my thoughts on washing eggs…)
- Sometimes a single carton will contain a tiny little egg and a massive egg right next to each other…
- And sometimes, you’ll find a little brown spot floating on the yolk when you crack the shell…
So what exactly ARE those little brown spots you sometimes find floating in an egg?
Those brownish or reddish specks you’ll occasionally find are deemed “meat spots” or “blood spots.”
Eggs destined for the grocery store shelf are “candled” by a machine to check the inside for any defects– this is why you’ll rarely come across a meat spot in a store-bought egg.
Backyard chicken owners can candle their eggs as well, but it’s not a necessity. (How to candle an egg at home)
Contrary to popular belief, a meat spot in an egg does not mean that it has been fertilized.
It’s actually a little malfunction on the part of the hen. According to the Egg Safety Center:
[Meat spots or blood spots] are caused by the rupture of a blood vessel on the yolk surface when it’s being formed or by a similar accident in the wall of the oviduct… Eggs with blood spots and meat spots are fit to eat.
I’m glad they have been deemed “fit to eat,” because although I will sometimes dig out the larger spots, I usually just ignore the smaller ones and scramble them up. *a-hem*
And here is another interesting little tidbit– the presence of visible blood spots can actually mean the egg is fresh. According to the Eggland’s Best website:
As an egg ages, the yolk takes up water from the albumen to dilute the blood spot so, in actuality, a blood spot indicates that the egg is fresh.
Perhaps another reason you don’t often see blood spots in store-bought cartons is because those eggs are usually several weeks old by the time they make it home to your refrigerator…
I can’t seem to find a concrete reason as to why some chickens lay eggs with meat spots and others don’t… Some sources say that older hens are more inclined to, while others say it’s reserved for younger birds. And some websites refer to it as a genetic defect or a dietary problem. Perhaps this is an issue I will have to dig into deeper in the future…
So next time you crack an egg from your backyard flock and find a little speck floating in the bowl, don’t be alarmed. If you like, you can remove it, or just ignore it.
Enjoy the little irregularities in your homegrown food and allow it to remind you of the valuable work you put into getting it on your table.
Some other egg-y posts you might like:
- Should I wash my eggs?
- How to Freeze Eggs
- How to Naturally Disinfect the Chicken Coop
- How to Dehydrate Eggs (or not…)
- How to Feed Eggshells to Chickens
- 30+ Things to do with Eggshells