Size Matters – Egg Size that is

With so many people raising their own hens or buying eggs directly from farmers, determining egg size is a handy skill. If you’re breaking a few into a frying pan for breakfast, it doesn’t really matter, but for cookies, cakes and other baked goods, it does. Eggs effect stucture, leavening, texture, taste and even shelf life. In recipes, assume eggs are large eggs unless otherwise noted.

Eggs are graded in two unrelated ways; by weight  (small, medium, large, extra-large and jumbo) and by quality (AA, A, B). Let’s start with weight. In the old days, lots of folks had egg scales on their farms or in their kitchens. Then along came supermarket eggs and lots of scales went off to Goodwill or wherever good little egg scales go when no one needs them anymore.  I use a small digital food scale in my kitchen but the old scales (like this one from Google Images) are very cool.

etsy egg scaleil_fullxfull.231170167

Supermarket eggs are measured by the dozen. Each egg doesn’t need to be right on the money, the dozen just have to average out.  Likewise, when you’re weighing eggs at home for baking, just get as close as you can. For more egg information than you ever knew you wanted, look to the American Egg Board.  This link will get you to the section on weights and grades, egg parts, etc.  Here are the weights (in ounces) and size grade of single eggs as set by the USDA.

Small =  1.5     Medium = 1.75     Large = 2     Extra-Large = 2.25     Jumbo = 2.5

Large, medium and small eggs laid by Ruby, Mattie and Baby respectively.

Large, medium and small eggs laid by Ruby, Mattie and Baby respectively.

My chickens lay a variety of egg sizes but I’m proud to say their eggs are mostly AA (sometimes an A slips in).  Here are highlights from what the Egg Board says about an AA egg: It spreads a moderate amount when broken, has a reasonably thick white that stands fairly high, has a clean strong shell and finally, a yolk that is firm, round and stands high. They go on to describe lesser eggs and point out that while AAs are desirable for frying and poaching, AA, A and B are fine for baking and other cooking. They don’t even mention C, D or F eggs and I’m not sure I want to know.

So there you have it. Size does matter, and now you’ll know just how many eggs to use.  Happy baking!