Egg shell color comes from the genetics of the chicken. Yolk color and nutritional density of the egg comes from the diet of the chicken.
Outdoor free-ranged hens give the best eggs. Access to green grass (or green garden scraps) is crucial: that green food provides the Omega-3 boost and the dark yellow color of the yolk. It’s normal for hens to reduce their egg production in winter: hens are exquisitely sensitive to not just the number of daylight hours, but also the rate of change of the number of daylight hours. Egg production peaks in April-May, and then actually starts to fall off in late June, as soon as we pass the summer solstice and the number of daylight hours begins to reduce. Production drops off rapidly after the fall equinox in September, and reaches its minimum in December and January. Now that the days are long and bright, and daylight hours are still increasing, egg production is at its maximum now through mid-June. These are not only the most abundant eggs of the season, but also the highest quality eggs with the most Omega 3. You may also get lucky at the farmer’s market and find a few vendors with the price decreased — simple supply and demand. That makes right now a great time to stock up on the best eggs at the lowest price, to have them available for your winter holiday baking, when free-range eggs will be much harder to come by.
How to freeze eggs
To freeze eggs, simply crack them out of their shell and into either a ziplock baggie or an ice cube tray. You can freeze each egg individually in an ice cube tray, or you can freeze, for example, three together in a ziplock to have ready for your favorite muffin recipe that uses three eggs. You can freeze the white and yolk together, or you can freeze these parts separately. The point is to think ahead how you will use these eggs when you thaw them, and to freeze them the way you will use them. Eggs keep well in the freezer for up to six months. Do not freeze eggs inside the shells!
Start baby chicks in early July to have abundant egg production in December.
The only natural force greater than sunlight is puberty. Chickens enter puberty at about 18 to 21 weeks of age. By starting baby chicks five months before December, say in early July, the young hens will enter puberty in December and have their peak egg production between December and June. July-started hens will often lay straight through the first summer, molting the following fall. Molting is a natural hormonal period of renewal in which the chickens stop laying eggs (winter is a bad time of year for a chicken to start a family), reduce their feeding (in the wild, feed is naturally less available in winter, so the chickens’ need is reduced to match supply), and many of their feathers are shed and regrown. This is why free-range eggs are less available and often more expensive in the winter; and then more abundant and occasionally lower-priced in March, April and May.
Kookoolan Farms eggs, a cult favorite still at $6/dozen, only available at the farm. Farm store open daily, cash or check only.
We have noticed that the price of free-range eggs has gone up tremendously in recent years: I’ve seen them for as much as $10 a dozen in premium groceries; $8 or $9 even in Fred Meyer. Kookoolan Farms eggs are still $6/dozen, same price since 2009. We presently have an abundance of eggs, available daily in our farm store.
Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs Every Time
Hard-boiled eggs are the original fast-food: high protein, high fat, easy to carry, non-polluting package (the shell). An easy-to-peel hard-boiled egg is the ultimate modern convenience food. But when the shell sticks and big chunks of the white are stuck to the shell, it’s aggravating. And if you’ve carefully sourced your eggs directly from a farm producing eggs from pasture-raised organic hens, you could be paying $6 to $8 per dozen, making the annoyance a significant waste.
My favorite cooking magazine for the last twenty years has been Cook’s Illustrated. They ran a beautiful characterization experiment checking all the rumors you’ve heard. The short of it? It’s all in the heating step.
Inspired by Cook’s Illustrated, here’s how we boil our eggs at Kookoolan Farms: Put the eggs in the pot, and fill with water to cover all the eggs. (Any number of eggs and any size pot is fine.) Now remove the eggs so you just have the water in the pot. Bring the only water to a boil (not with the eggs in the pan: (1) you will add the eggs to hot water, and (2) you will be able to know exactly when to start the timer). When the water is boiling, turn off the heat so that the eggs are not violently jostled around and cracked during this step. With a slotted spoon, gently place the eggs into the pan — it’s crucial that they be heated abruptly, not gradually.
Watching closely, bring the water back to a boil; this will take less than a minute. As soon as the water returns to the boil, reduce the heat so the eggs are barely simmering, and set your timer for 12 minutes. After 12 minutes, drain the boiling water and immediately plunge the hot eggs into the coldest water you can: ice water is best. Note: 12 minutes is for standard large eggs. For medium or small eggs, use 11 minutes. For jumbo, extra-large, or duck eggs, use 13 minutes.
Size matters: 12 minutes for large/regular eggs (middle); a bit longer from jumbo eggs; a bit shorter for small or medium eggs.
Did you know? Newly-laying, young hens tend to lay smaller eggs. As the hens mature they lay larger eggs. Two-, three-, and four-year-old hens tend to lay larger eggs less often (say, a jumbo egg four times a week, instead of a smaller egg six days a week, as she did the first year).
The very rapid heating shocks the shell and its membrane away from the whites, and all the eggs will slip easily out from their shells! The very rapid cooling just stops the cooking process so the eggs do not overcook. Tender whites, creamy yolk, no green margin, and easy to peel — every time!
Did you know? Small eggs are a better value than regular/large eggs. At Kookoolan Farms, large eggs are $6/dozen. A dozen large eggs weigh 25 ounces, or 24 cents per ounce. At Kookoolan Farms, small eggs are $4/dozen. A dozen small eggs weigh 20.5 ounces, or 19.5 cents per ounce, nearly 20% less expensive than large eggs. There is absolutely no difference in flavor or quality between small, large, or jumbo eggs: only a difference in size. In recipes calling for two large eggs, you can use three small eggs. Young children are delighted by the smaller size, so try an easy-peeling small egg in your child’s lunchbox! (Bonus: small eggs require a minute less time to cook!)
Standard large Ikea bags hold about 2.5-3 cubic feet: this is the equivalent of an eighth of a beef, a whole lamb, or about 10 whole chickens.
Kookoolan Farms 100% grass-fed beef is available year-round. Our next batch will be slaughtered this Thursday, May 17th, with finished beef ready to pick up the weekend of June 1st. We also have a batch of beef that will be ready for pickup weekend of June 22. Then no more beef until the weekend of August 12. So reserve now to be sure you have beef for summer backyard BBQs. Finished beef may be picked up either at our farm in Yamhill, or now at our processor The Meating Place in Hillsboro, possibly saving you 1.5 hours of round-trip driving time! Email Farmer Chrissie for more information.
Reserving now for spring-born, 100% grass-fed lamb, available June through October.
Kookoolan Farms 100% grass-fed lamb is a seasonal product: like hens, ewes are hormonally sensitive both to the number of daylight hours and even more to the rate of change of the number of daylight hours. Ewes are fertile in August to December, and following a five-month pregnancy, lambs are born from about January to about May most years. This results in beautiful six-to-eight-month old premium “spring lambs” (i.e. those born in the spring) available from about June through October each year. Our first five batches of lambs for June, July and August are already sold out — we are reserving now for the next-available weekend of August 12 half or whole lambs, email Farmer Chrissie for more information.
Famous Kookoolan Farms pastured, free-range, organic-fed chickens are also available only June through October. For the third year in a row, our 2018 season was completely sold out even before our first baby chick arrived in April. At this point we are signing up for waitlist/standby only for 2018, and we already have a number of reservations on the books for 2019.
We only sell direct to individual families like yours: no commercial accounts, no grocery stores, no buying clubs. We’ve been licensed and inspected by the Oregon Department of Agriculture since 2007, making us Oregon’s longest-tenured pastured poultry producer. Whole chickens are still $6.19/lb which is about $35 per whole chicken.
As always, thanks for your patronage!
Your farmers since 2005,
Chrissie and Koorosh