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Food glossary

Egg

Egg

Eggs are one of the most versatile and convenient natural products available. They can be served as a main dish by boiling, scrambling, frying, poaching or making into an omelette. They also have many unique properties - they can be used to glaze pies and pastries, to thicken sauces and mayonnaise, as a raising agent in meringues and soufflés and to set custards, batters and pastries.

All Waitrose own label eggs carry the Lion Quality mark, this shows that they have been produced in accordance with higher standards of hygiene and animal welfare than required by law. Every egg is stamped with a 21 day 'best before date' to ensure they are as fresh as possible. Each egg can be traced back to the parent flock.

Hen's eggs are graded according to their size:
Size Old size Weight
Small 5-7 Less than 53g
Medium 3-5 53-63g
Large 3-1 63-73g
Very large 1-0 Over 73g

Uses: Eggs are incorporated into a wide range of dishes from cakes, puddings and soufflés to quiches, pies and sauces. As a general rule medium eggs are recommended for most recipes, very large and large are perfect for boiling, frying, poaching, scrambling and for making omelettes. Small eggs are the most economical choice for glazing, binding, stuffing and enriching or thickening sauces.

To store: Eggs should be stored in the fridge with their pointed end downwards. Always keep them away from strong smelling and uncooked foods, particularly raw meat. They should be eaten by their best before date. Eat cooked egg dishes as soon as possible or keep them in the fridge.

To prepare: Wash your hands before and after handling eggs and discard any dirty or cracked eggs. For the best results, remove eggs from the fridge 30 minutes before use. When eggs are whisked or beaten at room temperature, more air is able to enter the mixture giving a lighter, fluffier result. When whisking egg whites, ensure that the bowl and whisk are grease-free - just a trace of yolk or grease can reduce the volume of the white. When folding egg white into a mixture, use a metal spoon or spatula, adding a little at a time to maintain the maximum volume.

To cook: Eggs can be boiled, baked, fried, poached, scrambled or made into omelettes.

Note: Lightly cooked or raw eggs are not suitable for the young, pregnant women, the elderly or those whose immune systems are weak.

A variety of eggs are sold, including:

Intelligent eating eggs

These are rich in Omega-3 and provide up to three-quarters of the recommended daily intake of these essential fatty acids. Omega-3 is a type of polyunsaturated fat that is particularly beneficial to cardiovascular health, brain growth and development. To produce these eggs the hens are fed a carefully balanced diet that includes cereal, pulses, seeds and green vegetables.

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Duck eggs

Duck eggs are larger than hen's eggs and have a richer flavour.

Uses: Hard-boil and include in salads or sandwiches.

To cook: They need to be cooked thoroughly - boil for at least 15 minutes to ensure they are cooked right through.

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Free range Columbian Blacktail hens eggs

These free range farm assured eggs come from Columbian Blacktail hens, a cross breed of Rhode Island Reds and other hardy breeds. They are particularly suited to the British climate and are kept in small flocks on approved small family farms. Their purpose-built houses have natural light, straw bedding and plenty of nesting boxes. The hens are fed on a natural cereal diet with only essential vitamins and minerals added.

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Free range organic Columbian Blacktail hens eggs

These hens are kept in the same way as normal free range hens but in smaller flocks and on land which has been free from any chemical pesticides and fertilisers for at least 2 years. The feed must be grown, milled and transported under strict organic regulations.

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Quail eggs

Smaller than hen's eggs, they have an attractive shell with deep blue and brown markings. The proportion of egg yolk to white is higher than in a hen's egg.

Uses: Hard-boil and serve as a starter with smoked salmon or fry and serve on toast.

To cook: To boil, cook for 3 minutes for a firm egg.

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Whites

The albumen or thick opaque liquid that surrounds an egg yolk. Egg whites are often separated from the egg yolk and used in cookery as a separate ingredient. Their main use is to add lightness and volume to a variety of dishes - egg whites are whisked until foamy and stiff and then folded in to soufflés, mousses, cakes. Egg whites are whisked with sugar to make meringues.

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Yolks

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The central yellow round in an egg that is surrounded by the egg white. Egg yolks have a high proportion of protein and are used in cookery to thicken and enrich sauces (eg. hollandaise) and to stabilise the ingredients in mayonnaise.

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