Eating seasonally means there are times when you have a few, times when you have plenty and times when you have LOTS. Given the nature of biology, you have to plant or raise extra in order to hit the minimum target. As we gardeners know all too well, stuff happens. The bear gets in the chicken tractor, the deer get in the corn, the birds hit the cherries the minute they’re ripe. Having excess is particularly true when it comes to eggs. Despite the efforts of breeders, chickens lay more in the spring and less in the winter. If you want to have enough eggs in the winter, sure as little green apples you are going to have way more than you need come spring. In order to have an average of 12 eggs a day year round for my family of seven, I need about two dozen chickens. I like Delawares, as they lay well and are also of a good size to make eating chickens, including fryers and broilers.
Which is why, at the moment, I have 20 dozen eggs in the refrigerator.
So what do you do with lots of eggs? Well, first, I rotate them, so I know which are the freshest and which are the oldest (oldest being relative, as they aren’t ever going to be more than two or three weeks old). Older eggs are better for hard-cooked eggs, deviled eggs, etcetera, as they are easier to peel. Older eggs also whip up more easily and have a greater volume when whipped. Back in the days when eggs were whipped by hand, cooks preferred them with a little age; today, this strong-arm tactic is usually provided by a mixer, so it’s less of a problem. However, older eggs also deflate faster, so use them immediately in your meringue or souffle.
Some people sell them, but I have so many irons in the fire, it’s too much trouble. I share with people I like who don’t have chickens. I just sent eight dozen over to the neighbors, who lost all their chickens in a barn fire last week.
I cook them, preferably in recipes that use up a dozen at a crack. These include scrambled eggs with ham or bacon and chopped sauteed onions, frittatas and omelets. Angel food cake, divinity candy and meringue cookies help take care of the whites, while gold cake, homemade ice cream and eggnog use up the extra yolks. Floating island – a meringue cake with a custard sauce – takes care of 12 whites and six yolks at one go.
If all else fails, I hard cook them, chop them up – shells and all – and feed them back to the chickens to make more eggs.