Eggs are one of the most versatile ingredients which is why they have been eaten for centuries across the globe. Eggs are a staple at the breakfast table and this post is all about them including my favourite flavour combinations with some top tips and facts about eggs.
I will look at different ways to eat eggs at breakfast, information on size, quality, temperature and types of egg and how to store them.
Whilst eggs are easy to cook it takes practice to cook them just right, the more you use them the more confident you become and the better they will taste.
Where to store eggs
The taste of an egg will vary based on its age, how it has been stored and the animals diet.
You can store eggs in the fridge or at room temperature. They will last longer at the back of the fridge (not in the door where temperature fluctuates) but they cook better when at room temperature. Personally I keep my eggs in the fridge.
Eggs should be kept in their box and stored point down. Egg shells are porous so keep them away from strong smelling food (hence the box). Washing the egg makes it more permeable to smells so avoid doing this unless you are trying to flavour it.
Eggs should always be eaten before their best before date. You can test to see if your egg is fresh by putting it in a glass of water. If the egg sinks it is fresh. If it floats it is stale and should be thrown away.
As eggs age they fill with air hence why a stale egg floats. Fresh eggs are best for poaching and frying whilst older eggs are better for boiling.
Flavour parings – what goes well with eggs?
Tomato is a great combination with eggs as is basil. Scrambled egg with tomato and basil is delicious and very fresh for a cooked breakfast.
Mushrooms are another vegetable that goes well with eggs.
Carbs like bread and potato work perfectly with eggs. Think egg and soldiers, dipping chips into a fried egg or a Spanish tortilla.
Another great flavour pairing is egg and cheese, I couldn’t have my omelettes without cheddar cheese.
The ultimate breakfast flavour combo has to be egg and bacon from a full English to eggs Benedict or an egg and bacon muffin, Yum!
Egg size, temperature, quality and type:
Here in the UK most of us eat chicken eggs but you can get all sorts of bird and reptile eggs around the world. Eggs will vary in size, colour and quality.
Egg size & temperature
In the past eggs used to be labelled with a number between 0 and 7 based on its size / weight. Today in the UK they are listed as small, medium, large or extra large.
The size and temperature of your egg will impact its cook time. Most recipes will assume a medium size egg unless it says large or small.
An egg at room temperature will have more volume when whisked so is often better for baking. If you store your eggs in the fridge you can bring them out for 30 minutes to come up to room temperature.
For most breakfast recipes it will be fine to use the eggs straight from the fridge but adjust the cook time, so if soft boiling they would likely need an extra 30 seconds.
The best quality eggs will be organic free range eggs with the Lion quality symbol.
- Farm fresh or barn eggs are farmed in large industrial units
- Free range means the animals have access to some outdoor space
- Organic means the animals are kept free range and fed an organic diet
The Lion quality symbol is stamped into around 85% of UK eggs or on the egg boxes. The symbol means that the eggs have been produced to high food safety standards including a compulsory vaccination against salmonella. However it does not provide assurances of animal welfare or mean they are free range- many will be from factory farmed hens. The Best before date of the Lion quality eggs is 21 days after laying. You can even check the code to trace your egg.
Shell colour is determined by the breed of bird. Usually white feathered chickens lay white eggs and red feathered lay brown shells. The colour of the yolk will vary based on hen’s diet.
Types of eggs:
Different coloured shells –
- Bluebell Araucana from a Chilean breed have a pastel blue shell.
- Burford browns have glossy brown shells.
- Chestnut Maran a French breed, the shell has a speckled chestnut colour.
- White Leghorn produce white shells.
In addition to hen eggs you can get
- White Duck eggs, these are larger than hen eggs with thick white shells and rich flavour. They can be tough if boiled so good for scrambled eggs or omelettes.
- From February to August you can get Goose eggs. They are more than twice size of a hen egg with a strong flavour.
- Ostrich eggs are the largest edible egg available.
- Quail eggs are very small with a more delicate flavour.
- Turkey eggs have a 50/50 ratio of white to yolk.
How to cook eggs for breakfast?
There are so many ways to cook eggs, here are my top ways to cook eggs for breakfast:
- Fried Eggs, in a hot frying pan, season and baste with butter.
- Scrambled Eggs with just salt and pepper. Make sure you take them off the heat just before you think they are cooked. Try my scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and chives.
- Boiled Eggs 3-5 mins for soft eggs with soldiers. 10-12 mins for hard boiled, not longer as white goes rubbery and yolk crumbles. Always use a timer when boiling eggs and put them in or under cold water before peeling.
- Poached Eggs in a shallow pan of water. Crack an egg into a bowl and slide into the water with a flick to wrap the white around the yolk, simmer for 3-4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a kitchen towel.
- Baked Eggs great in a tomato sauce.
- Eggs Benedict, hollandaise sauce is a winner with poached eggs.
- Huevos Rancheros a delicious Mexican breakfast with eggs, tortillas and salsa.
- Omelettes, my favourite filling is ham, mushrooms and cheese.
- Frittata or Spanish Omelette, a great make ahead breakfast.
- French Toast or eggy bread is always a treat.
- Pancakes, eggs are what make this humble batter so delicious.
Eggs are a great choice as part of a healthy balanced diet. A medium size egg is around 66 calories, high in protein, rich in vitamin D and B12.
Whilst UK eggs with a Lion stamp are safe to eat caution should be taken with raw or partially cooked eggs for vulnerable groups, see advice from the NHS.
Did you know?
During the Middle Ages Christians were prohibited from eating eggs during Lent because of their richness, but were allowed to eat them when Easter arrived. This is where our Easter Egg tradition began.
The opaque spirals in the egg white are called chalaza and anchor the white to the yolk in the centre of the shell.
You can freeze eggs (whites or yolks) out of their shell for up to 3 months. The yolk and whites must be separated and add pinch of salt to beaten yolks. Just defrost in your fridge.
Egg yolks can form emulsions such as mayonnaise or hollandaise sauce.
When you have broken shell in your egg, it is easier to use another bit of shell to fish it out than your finger.
A medium egg gives about 45-50grams of liquid egg
You can buy egg whites in a carton!
I hope you learnt something new about eggs, what is your favourite way to eat eggs for breakfast?
Check out my recipes here.