Food Duel: Supermarket Eggs vs. Farmer’s Market Eggs
Like many other “foodies,” I tend to lean toward things that come from farmer’s markets, say they’re “all-natural” and so forth. As I was making my usual rounds at New York City’s Greenmarket (perhaps my favorite place to wander in this great city, save for Chinatown) and picking up eggs from my favorite purveyor, I got thinking. I knew the eggs that I buy from Tello’s (and sometimes from Flying Pigs Farm… though they’re much pricier) were always delicious, but how much, if at all, more than plain old supermarket eggs? I’d think by now mostly everyone in the country has access to a farmer’s market or somewhere that fresh eggs are available. It was time for me to put fancy vs. common to an old-fashioned taste test. Visuals and the verdict after the jump!
Here’s how it went down: The exact same cooking method was used – poaching, which is the type I’ll pick to eat 9 out of 10 times. Especially for this purpose, it gives the clearest impression of the egg and just the egg, with full clarity and no other butter business. Both my wife and I were given one supermarket egg, and one Tello’s Greenmarket egg. I disclosed which was which to my wife so that she could compare and contrast easier, but now I’m thinking I should have done the whole thing blind. Next time… Anyways, four poached eggs, all cooked pretty much the same amount, served atop a plain English muffin. Since True/Slant or any other generous sugar momma has yet to provide me with an immersion circulator to make this super precise and scientific, there’s obviously some variation, but not enough to differ at all.
Strangely enough, both sets of eggs came from Brooklyn. As you can see displayed on the Tello’s, they’re free range, all grain vegetarian diet fed and have no hormones, steroids or antibiotics. There’s no such claims on the Jacks’ Egg Farm supermarket carton.
The Tello’s eggs are the brown ones on the left … but that means nothing. The only difference between brown eggs and white eggs is the color of the chicken they came from. Brown eggs don’t taste better, or vice versa. So there.
Straight off the bat, the Tello’s egg had much less of that globby white stuff you often see in eggs, and the white was lighter and more translucent in general. As for the yolk, I was surprised to find they were essentially the same color, while the supermarket yolk was a good deal larger. Go steroids!
Here, the eggs are cooking. The Tello’s on the left clearly lost more white and made the water cloudier, but again with this being massively unscientific, that could have been anything from water temperature to me being a bad cook. The supermarket eggs held together like champs. Again, steroids may have some perks.
After about 3 minutes in the water for each batch, the eggs were done. Again, the Tello’s are on the left and the supermarket on the right. Thanks to the whites holding together better in the pan, the supermarket eggs are much more uniform when it comes to shape. But just like most things culinary, shape doesn’t mean squat – it’s all about taste, so let’s get to it. (Also, isn’t the shadow from the wrought-iron bars on my window to protect from burglars just gorgeous? Super retro.)
With the eggs mounted atop their English muffins, there was a clear visual difference once the yolk was punctured. On the left, the Tello’s yolk is clearly a deeper hue of orange, while the supermarket egg is a thin yellow. There was also a discernable taste difference, as the Tello’s yolk was buttery, rich and altogether much more unctuous. The supermarket egg seemed watery in comparison and was slightly less flavorful. “I can definitely tell now, but I’m not sure if I had just one if I’d be able to say which was which,” my wife said, referring to the taste. If it weren’t for the texture aspect of the yolk, I might agree. The supermarket egg definitely won when it came to the white portion of the egg. The Tello’s white was quite loose and mushy, but the supermarket white was bouncy, firm and the perfect contrast to a yolk.
All in all, neither egg was bad. However, if I had to make a decision as to which was better, the deeply-flavored yolk of the Tello’s overrides the good white of the supermarket egg. Plus, there’s just something intrisically appealing to me about buying eggs from the person who probably scooped them out of the chicken coop that morning and placed them in the carton. Are they worth $4 a dozen compared to $2-ish a dozen, which is what the supermarket eggs cost? Maybe not all the time, and in a pinch, the supermarket eggs were just fine. Still, $4 is not a major splurge, and you can consider it a treat to yourself every now and then.
Now, for conversation in the comments, what type of eggs do you buy, and how do you like them cooked?