Each year around this time I start getting frantic requests for eggs. Some people have discovered how much better real eggs are, some have lost their source, and some have stepped up their egg use with holiday cooking and baking.
Eggs, like all food, have a season. Eggs, like all food, vary in quality. Once a person has eaten a tomato from a healthy plant grown in great soil during peak season….. The same is true for eggs. There are industrial eggs from hens is cages in huge factories, there are eggs grown organically on a commercial scale, and there are eggs from hens who get clean feed and access to green pasture.
When is egg season? Like most birds in nature, chickens, ducks, turkeys, and geese all start laying in earnest once the days lengthen in February (think Easter and the bunny with the eggs) and then the hens lay fewer once spring has moved to summer’s heat. They all nearly stop in fall mid way between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice; both the cooler weather and the shorter days trigger this break.
We do not push our hens with lights or heat. We let them take their natural break. We cull out the old hens, and feed the rest for winter and enjoy the few stray eggs they lay. We are happy to sell what we have, but there are not as many and they are more expensive to produce.
What do we do for the holiday treats that require eggs? Well, each spring I beat and freeze some in sour cream or cottage cheese containers. I mark the top with how many eggs and the date. These eggs work just fine in any recipe that calls for beaten eggs. Eating seasonal and local food means making adjustments and a bit of planning, but it can be delicious, and is always worth it!