“Good things come in small packages.” as the saying goes. We’d say that when it comes to eggs, those words apply even more. Farmer’s eggs (also known as pullet eggs) are just a little over half the size of a standard large egg. But their taste is substantial, with creamier, firm yolks and fluffy, airy whites. This has made them a favorite among chefs, however they’re mostly unknown in stores. That deserves to change.
Farmer’s eggs are great not just because of their quality, but because they are making use of a food source that often goes to waste. They are produced by young chickens, called pullets, that are typically less than a year old and not more than a few weeks into their laying career. During this period, the birds are still growing, so they don’t produce very large eggs. Because most supermarkets are only willing to sell standard-sized eggs, farmer’s eggs usually get separated out, although they can represent up to 10% of a farm’s stock. They’re sometimes used to make various egg products, but it’s not uncommon for them to simply get tossed.
A few years back, a FreshDirect team member was paying a visit to Alderfer Eggs, one of our long-time partners. They saw the smaller eggs being picked out of that day’s load and asked why this was happening. The Alderfer team explained that these were being removed because of their size and not going to market. Which was a shame because they were the tastiest eggs of all. This sparked the conversation to sell the eggs at FreshDirect, and now, we await the return of farmer’s egg season each year.
Because the eggs are laid by young chickens, they have a more robust character to them, with dense, deeply pigmented yolks and whites that hold together beautifully—this makes them especially suited for poaching and frying. Since they are produced during a limited period in a hen’s life, they usually arrive seasonally. Depending on the farm’s practices, they may come around for just a few weeks, although with planning this can go on longer (we’ve got our hopes up for an especially good season this year).
Eggs from Alderfer come with extra credentials that make them stand out even more. All of their birds are given optimal care because happy chickens lay better eggs. Alderfer farmer’s eggs are raised on 100% organic, vegetarian feed and are never given hormones, GMOs, or added byproducts. They have space to roam, roost, and nest amidst the farmlands of eastern Pennsylvania (yes, they’re local too). This natural environment makes it possible for the birds to stay healthy without the use of medication or antibiotics.
You can use pullet eggs in all the same ways as standard eggs, although you will want to adjust for size. An approximate rule of thumb is to use 3 farmer’s eggs for every 2 standard large eggs that a recipe calls for. Just make sure to keep an eye on them when boiling, poaching, or frying—they’ll cook a bit quicker since they’re small.
These are some of our favorite recipes that let farmer’s eggs shine. Add a carton to your next FreshDirect order and discover just why farmer’s eggs are small but mighty.