July 22, 2014

How hard is it to make a soft-boiled egg?

Posted in Recipe

My favorite way to eat eggs is to dip toast into a runny yolk. Whether that means a perfectly cooked over-medium or soft-boiled egg, it doesn’t matter. It just so happens that it’s really easy to cook one of those to perfection, the other not so much.

Here I tested out three different methods on cooking a soft-boiled egg, and the results actually surprised me. We’re looking for a firm white and runny yolk, folks. Here goes:

(Much like the hard-boiling process, but with less time on the clock)

Cold boil: 1 medium size egg – TheKitchn.com suggests cooking on simmer for 3 minutes
Fill up a pot with cold water, an inch over the egg. Timer starts when the water starts to boil. Keep the water on the heat but lower to a simmer once the water starts boiling. Cook for 3 minutes, then remove and place in ice-bath.

cold-boil-soft

Result: Overcooked but on the softer side. I would suggest taking these out of the pot at 2 minutes (after the water hits boiling point).

Long boil: 1 medium size egg – Chatelaine.com suggests I cook the egg for only 3.5 minutes
Fill up a pot with cold water, an inch over the egg. Timer start when the water starts to boil. But this time, take the pot off the heat after the water is boiling, cover and cook for 3.5 minutes with no heat, then place in ice-bath.

long-boiled-soft

Result: Way too overcooked! I should have listened! Instead I kept the egg in the pot, cooking for 5 minutes and the result was a way overcooked egg. Assuming the egg would need more time to cook, after hitting the boiling point, was way off. I would take these guys out at 3.5 minutes, just like Chatelaine suggests.

Hot boil: 1 medium size egg – Egg Master- A sophisticated Egg Timer app suggests cooking for 5 minutes
Boil a pot of water. When water is officially boiling, gently place eggs in pot and cook on the same high heat for 5 minutes, then place in ice-bath.

hot-boiled-soft

Result: Almost perfect. The whites were only slightly undercooked near the center, but the yolk was in all its runny glory.

It took a few tries, but I finally got it right. The easiest, most foolproof way to cooking soft-boiled eggs is hot boiling for 5.5 minutes. Get your soldiers ready, it’s time for dippin’!

soft-boiled

July 21, 2014

Hard-boiling – which way’s best?

Posted in Recipe

If you’re not the app type (or don’t have a smartphone), our last blog post is no help for your egg boiling needs. So, we’ve decided to test the cold boil, long boil and hot boil methods the old fashioned way.

Cold boil:
Fill up a pot with cold water, an inch over the egg. Timer starts when the water starts to boil. Keep the water on the heat but lower to a simmer once the water starts boiling. Cook for 7 minutes, then remove and place in ice-bath.

Long boil:
Fill up a pot with cold water, an inch over the egg. Timer start when the water starts to boil. But this time, take the pot off the heat after the water is boiling, cover and cook for 12 minutes with no heat, then place in ice-bath.

Hot boil:
Boil a pot of water. When water is officially boiling, gently place eggs in pot and cook on the same high heat for 12 minutes, then place in ice-bath.

The results:

hard-boiled-eggs-vitalfarms

The long and cold boil method had very similar results: a perfectly hard-boiled egg with no green ring of over-cooked egg. The hot boil was slightly undercooked (but still so delicious), which was surprising since the egg was left in boiling water for 12 minutes.

cold-boiled-vitalfarms long-boiled-vitalfarms

The verdict is, a long and slow cooking process will lead to perfectly cooked hard-boiled eggs every time. This is great if you need to leave the kitchen and can’t stare at a boiling pot of water for more than 10 minutes. And our quick tip: placing the cooked egg in an ice-bath immediately after boiling will stop the cooking process and will make it easy to peel without surface craters!

Happy boiling!

July 11, 2014

Never over-boil an egg again!

Posted in Recipe, Uncategorized

Boiling water is one of the easiest things to do in the kitchen. Putting an egg into said boiling water just made things a LOT more difficult. How do I get the yolk just right? How long should I cook and on what heat? Does it matter if I’m on a mountain in Colorado at my grandma Rose’s house?

So we’ve made a list of some egg timer apps out there that may be of some use to you next time you’re in the kitchen with a dozen of those Vital Farms pasture-raised eggs and have no idea how long to boil them for (or scramble, poach or fry them for that matter). We’ve given 10 popular egg timer apps our egg-ratings.

1-egg-rating Filibaba Egg Timer by Filibaba AB (free) – When you have to pay a dollar to get rid of a super annoying banner, the app is not worth it!

1-egg-rating Original Egg Timer by Artline Solutions (.99) – This app has one misleading name, it’s actually a timer for games. Definitely don’t boil your eggs for 60 minutes!

1-egg-rating Egg Timer- Boiled Eggs by UGUR CAKMAKCI (free) – If you’re looking for the most simplistic interface ever, I mean EVER, this app is for you. But for the rest of us that would like some customizable options, let’s move on.

2-egg-rating Egg Clock- Kitchen Timer by Raphael Odermatt (.99) – Even though they have an “award winning formula for boiling eggs” there’s nothing special about it to make it worth paying for.

3-egg-rating Egg Timer by Egg Farmers of Canada (free) – The first app that gives you options for cooing different types of eggs – boiled, poached, scrambled and fried. There’s also a list of about 100 recipes that makes this app unique to the rest of the ones on this list. They’re getting a 3-egg-rating because it’s not exactly exciting for the user.

3-egg-rating Gourmet Egg Timer by MARSDEN (.99) – Now we’re getting somewhere. You can create multiple timers to cook eggs at different consistencies at the same time and there’s an interactive interface that makes things a little fun, you can rotate your phone and watch your egg (and the boiling water) move with you. My only complaint – it’s not very visually appealing. Next!

3-egg-rating Farm Pride Egg Timer by Exa Web (free) – This app has got a very cute “farmy” look to it with basic boiling tips and techniques. A decent option for a free app, and three stars because of it’s interface.

4-egg-rating Any Egg Style Timer by Klaas Kremer (.99) – Just like a previous app, this one has a feature to time different styles of egg cooking, and makes it very easy for the user to transition from scrambled to boiled with a swipe of a finger.

Drumroll, please! The winner is…. Well, there are two winners. One will cost ya, and the other won’t. (So, I guess that means the real winner is the free one, but you can make that decision on your own.) UPDATE: The Egg Master app now has a shiny $1 price tag on it.

5-egg-rating The Perfect Egg Timer by Mirko Müller (.99)  - This app prides itself on being the #1 bestseller in multiple countries. It has a clean interface and determines cooking time based on egg size, altitude and temperature. It is so precise, you can actually measure the size of the egg by placing it on the screen and resizing with your fingertips, and it can also tell your altitude through the GPS in your phone. There’s an “egg spy” feature that allows you to actually see what the egg looks like inside while it’s boiling. Can you say, “perfect boiled eggs EVERY time?!”

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 4.43.35 PM Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 4.54.17 PM Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 4.54.09 PM Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 4.54.27 PM

5-egg-rating Egg Master- A sophisticated Egg Timer (.99) – This app has a simple and effective interface that has many of the same features as the one above. What I love about this app is the ability to cook multiple eggs at the same time and personalize the time with the name of the egg-eater. The live mode allows you to see how your egg looks inside during boiling and features the same GPS and resizing feature as the previous. Hooray for free and useful!

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 4.44.49 PM Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 4.57.21 PM Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 4.56.17 PM Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 4.56.05 PM

July 8, 2014

Egg and Crab Breakfast Tacos

Posted in Recipe

If you’re lucky enough to live on the coast where fresh seafood is available at your fancy or your local supermarket is having a sweet deal on fresh crab, this recipe should be in your future!
 

Egg and Crab Breakfast Tacos

Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 5 minutes
Total time 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 6 Vital Farms Eggs (scrambled)
  • 1/2 cup Crab
  • 1/2 White onion (chopped)
  • Cheddar cheese (freshly grated)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Tortillas

Directions

Step 1. crab-leg-yum
Heat up oil in a pan on medium-low heat and while waiting, shred crab meat
Step 2. cooking-onions-crab
Add chopped onions and shredded crab meat to pan, cook until onions are transparent
Step 3. In a bowl, scramble eggs and season with salt and pepper
Step 4. Pour eggs into pan and scramble with the onions and crab meat
Step 5. cheese-eggs-crab
Sprinkle the grated cheddar on top of the cooked eggs, to melt
Step 6. Heat up tortillas, add the cheesy egg/crab, add hot sauce if you'd like and enjoy!
July 1, 2014

Cheddar and Chorizo Frittata

Posted in Recipe

Cheddar and Chorizo Frittata

Serves 6
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 35 minutes
Allergy Egg
Meal type Breakfast, Lunch
Misc Serve Cold, Serve Hot

Ingredients

  • 8 Vital Farms Eggs
  • 1/4lb chorizo
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 onion
  • 10 cherry tomatoes (cut in quarters)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Step 1. Set the oven to 375 degrees F.
Step 2. Cook the chorizo in an oven safe pan on medium heat.
Step 3. Remove cooked meat and half of the oil, then sauté the onions in the remaining oil.
Step 4. Mix the ingredients you would like to incorporate into your frittata into a bowl. We used pasture-raised eggs, shredded cheddar cheese, the cooked onions, chorizo and cherry tomatoes. Season with a little salt and pepper.
Step 5. Pour ingredients from bowl into the oven safe pan you used to cook your chorizo and onions, and stick in a 375 degree oven for as long as it takes for your eggs to set. (Jiggle it around until it no longer moves like jello in the center.)
Step 6. And, ta-da! A beautiful and delicious frittata!
June 19, 2014

Unscrambling Egg Labels – a helpful guide

Posted in Uncategorized

We ran a little survey to find out what people think and believe some of the most common egg label terms mean. The results are surprising! Seems like people want eggs from chickens raised outdoors on pastures, but have been led to believe that that’s what ‘free-range’ and ‘cage-free’ are. We all know the truth though – if that’s what you want, then look for Certified Humane pasture-raised eggs. Just like the eggs we raise here at Vital Farms!

June 11, 2014

Orange Yolks for All You Good Folks

Summer’s here and with it comes an abundance of the nutrient-rich grasses that make for the delicious egg yolks that are one of the surest signs that our girls are outdoors eating the sort of salad and goodies that makes them, and you, so much healthier. With 108sqft each, on pastures rotated to keep them fresh, our girls always enjoy a good supply of the choicest greens!

An indication of an egg that’s packed with nutrients is a bold orange color in yolk. This comes from a class of carotenoids called xanthophylls, not, as many people believe, beta-carotene, which is still nutritionally important. As xanthophylls are naturally found in many of the delicious grasses that our girls get out on their pastures, it’s no surprise that our yolks turn a deeper shade of orange in these summer months.

A conventional egg yolk compared to an orange, pasture-raised Vital Farms yolk.

A conventional egg yolk compared to an orange, pasture-raised Vital Farms yolk.

Xanthophylls are extremely helpful at boosting your immune and reproductive systems by converting to vitamin A in our bodies and are also known to relieve indigestion and boost overall health. One of these xanthophylls, lutein, accumulates in your retinas and, acting as an antioxidant, protects your eyes against the harmful effects of light in the blue part of the spectrum. 

But as they say, not all that glitters is gold. While a deep orange color is a great signifier of pasture-raised hens and their freedom to forage, some commercial egg producers have come up with deceiving ways to deepen the color of their yolks by supplementing artificial coloring: we’ve heard everything from the chemical compound canthaxanthin to chili powder.

These practices aren’t commonly used and we can assure you, none of our Vital Farmers alter the look of our eggs in any way. All of that yummy goodness is all-natural and comes from our girls’ diet of grass, critters and a small amount of supplemental feed that keeps them laying round-the-clock.

Another factor that may affect yolk color is a change in seasons. Different grasses thrive in different seasons, so the color of the yolk can vary throughout the year depending on the weather and the kind of grasses available to our girls. And just like you and I, the summer heat can dampen the girls’ appetites – eating more leads to weight gain, which makes for hotter hens – so while they are still rummaging freely on fresh grass, in the summer our ladies may eat less to stay cool, which can also affect yolk color. 

A farmer uses the Vital Farms color check chart to see what his yolks rank.

A farmer uses the Vital Farms color check chart to see what his yolks rank.

Even though there are some exceptions to this rule, we know how important this color is as an indication of our girls’ diet. Each of our 50 family-farmers has a color chart to check the yolks against, to make sure our girls are getting all the natural goodness that they need. This healthy, balanced diet makes all the difference for our girls. Being pasture-raised keeps them laying the freshest, most nutritious eggs for you and your family.

 

March 19, 2014

The importance of a balanced diet – or, soy-y seems to be hardest word.

While our girls are outside eating salad and croutons all day (that’s grass and critters to you and I), that’s not always enough to keep them laying these beautiful eggs. So while a lot of the goodness that these eggs are packed with (the vitamins, the beta carotene, and more) comes from what they find out on the pasture, there are some vital additional nutrients that we need to provide for them as well.

You see, although chickens are, by nature, omnivorous and have a voracious appetite (which means they’ll eat just about anything, and plenty of it!), the sort of domesticated breeds that we raise on our farms today have been bred to thrive on a different diet than their wild ancestors, and even from the sort of hens that you would have found on most country farms a century ago. Yard pickings alone are no longer enough, and modern breeds need modern feeds.

soy-article-pic

Because of this, we provide a supplemental feed that has been carefully mixed to provide the balance of carbohydrates (for energy) and the protein and amino acids that our girls absolutely need to keep laying. Without this they simply would not be able to lay as often as they do. We make it available to them all year round, but when the eating is good on the pastures, they may hardly touch it! Only the best is good enough for our girls, and this supplemental feed ensures that they stay happy, healthy and well fed!

These feeds comprise of 2 main parts – corn, for the carbohydrates that give the hens the energy they need, and unprocessed soybean meal, for the essential proteins and amino acids that they require to lay eggs as frequently as they do. They also include a number of trace vitamins and minerals to ensure that the feed is nutritionally balanced. This feed is sourced and certified according to the flock it’s for – USDA Certified Organic for the organic girls, NonGMO Project Verified for the nonGMO ladies, and just regular feed for the rest.

We do sometimes get asked about why we use soy – we know that there are some people who have their concerns, but, for now, soy simply provides the best protein and amino acid balance of any available and sustainably farmed vegetable.

The concerns about soy range from the way that it is farmed, to the possible effects it may have when ingested by people, blamed on a class of molecules called isoflavones. The science is still inconclusive, but, respecting people’s personal opinions, we embarked last year on a journey to see if we could replace soy in our feed. And it has not been easy.

For one thing, when we actually measured the isoflavone levels in our eggs, what we discovered surprised us. On average, one pasture-raised egg contained about 4µg of soy-derived isoflavones (many of the grasses that our hens eat also contain natural isoflavones, so we took that into account). If that doesn’t sound like much, it’s because it really isn’t. In fact it’s about the same amount as you’d find in 0.003ml of off-the-shelf-soy milk, or the equivalent of 2-4 pinheads worth. Not nothing, but not very much.

So what could we replace the soy-as-protein source with? Well, animal proteins are out, for a number of reasons; they may be from wild caught, and therefore unsustainable, sources, or, if farmed, have likely been raised on a higher concentration of soy than we feed our girls, so those isoflavones might be more concentrated in the resulting feed. That rules out things like fish-meal and crab-meal, but doubly so because organic certification also prohibits the use of these animal proteins sources.

Many plant based alternatives pose a number of problems too – some just taste bad to the hens, or make the eggs taste funny (flaxseed, for example, makes eggs taste fishy), some go rotten too quickly for us to send out to our farms across the country (copra, from coconuts, falls into this category), and some require such numerous combinations of seeds, grains and beans to meet the right protein and amino acid profile that they simply become unmanageable (for USDA Organic certification or nonGMO verification, every single ingredient needs to be traced back to source – easy enough for 2 ingredients, but much harder, and much more expensive, for the 10 or more ingredients that we’d be looking at).

That then leaves us with few viable alternatives – for the time being at least – but that in no way means that we have given up. Again, knowing as we do that it matters to a certain number of our customers means that it matters to us. We’re working with some of the smartest people in the business to find the right solution – one that is economically viable, environmentally sustainable and deliciously edible (for the girls). When we find what that solution is, you can be sure you’ll hear all about it!

March 14, 2014

Russell’s Rellenos

Posted in Recipe

Russell’s Rellenos

Allergy Egg
Meal type Breakfast, Lunch
Misc Serve Hot

Ingredients

  • 1 can Green Chiles (26 oz. can (or 16 whole green chiles)
  • 1lb Monterey Jack cheese (Cut in strips ½-inch by ¼-inch)
  • 2 cups Cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 5 Large Eggs
  • 1/4 cup Flour
  • 1 1/4 cup Milk
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)
  • 3 dashes Red pepper sauce
  • 1 pinch Paprika

Directions

Step 1. Pre heat oven to 400ºF
Step 2. Spray 9 x 13 baking dish.
Step 3. Rinse seeds from chiles carefully.
Step 4. Spread chiles in single layer on paper towels and pat dry. 
Step 5. Slip strip of Monterey jack cheese into each chile.
Step 6. Beat eggs with mixture, gradually adding flour, beating until smooth. 
Step 7. Add milk, salt, pepper, and red pepper sauce. Beat well.
Step 8. Arrange half of the stuffed chiles in baking dish and sprinkle with half of cheese and paprika. 
Step 9. Repeat layers ending with cheese. 
Step 10. Pour egg mixture over all.
Step 11. Bake uncovered, 30-40 minutes.
Step 12. Cut in squares.
September 25, 2013

Being Organic – What does it mean?

If you purchase our pasture-raised eggs, you’ll know that only our Vital Farms and Pasture Verde eggs  are Certified Organic. On a crowded shelf, it can sometimes be a little confusing to understand what this means – in amongst the ‘free-range’, ‘cage-free’, ‘added Omega-3s’ eggs, how important is an Organic Certification, and how does it fit in with other labels and terms, like ‘NonGMO’ and ‘pasture-raised’?

organic-label

Firstly, we started pasture-raising with a mind to organic principles throughout – we never use herbicides or pesticides on our fields, nor do we add or treat our ladies with hormones or antibiotics. So in that regard, all our girls, regardless of the supplemental feed that we provide them, enjoy an exceptional level of lifestyle, and we follow sustainable and organic farming practices on all our family farms.

However, we also appreciate the need for diversity. While we are happy to be able to offer eggs produced by hens provided with a conventional supplemental feed (Alfresco Farms and Texas Chicken Ranch), and, just recently, our new Backyard Eggs that come from birds provided with a nonGMO Project Verified feed, the Organic Certification remains the highest certification that we maintain. As this certification already covers the exclusion on GMO ingredients, it’s the most intensive environmental certification there is.

Taken in combination with our Certified Humane standards, which are the highest animal welfare standards in the country, we think that gives us the happiest hens making the tastiest eggs!

But the Organic Certification is a rigorous process that covers more than just a spot check of the feed that we provide our Vital Farms and Pasture Verde girls. Our organic certifier conducts regular audits at every one of our organic farms and packing facilities, a process we just went through this last week at our Onion Creek farm and Austin packing plant.

On the farm, the auditor’s main job is to ensure that we’re only using approved organic materials in our production practices, and that the number of eggs we’re producing equates to the number of birds we’re raising.  He walks our pastures and observes each flock of birds, verifies that our pastures are regularly rotated to provide fresh grass to our ladies, and that we don’t use any pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers anywhere on our pastures.  He reviews all our records, including our supplemental feed records, to ensure that we’re only sourcing from certified organic mills, and talks with our caretakers to verify that they have a good understanding of organic principles.

During the inspection of the packing facility, the auditor’s primary focus is to verify that all organic eggs that are run through our plant are clearly identified and kept separate from any non-organic eggs (such as our Alfresco Farms eggs), from the moment they are transported from the farm, all the way through to when they are packed into the egg cartons. He inspects our cooler and egg washing/packing machine, any materials (such as egg wash) that we use to be sure they are compliant with organic regulations, and then reviews our records for production and sales to ensure that no non-organic eggs are being packed as organic.

It may be a long, detail-intensive process, but we feel it’s essential that we can assure our customers that our Vital Farms and Pasture Verde eggs truly meet the organic standards. And we’re proud to say that we passed again with flying colors!

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