NATIONAL NEWS - While we might not be able to solve that age-old conundrum as to which came first, the chicken or the egg, we do know that in terms of recognised and celebrated food days, World Egg Day - which this year takes place on Friday, 9 October - follows World Chicken Day by a mere 24 hours.
According to the International Egg Commission, World Egg Day was established at the IEC Vienna 1996 conference when it was decided to celebrate the humble egg on the second Friday in October each year to raise awareness of the benefits of eggs and their importance in human nutrition.
Eggs are said to be one of nature’s highest quality sources of protein and contain many of the key ingredients for life.
The proteins contained within eggs are highly important in the development of the brain and muscles, have a key role to play in disease prevention and contribute to general wellbeing.
World Egg Day is celebrated in different ways around the world. In 2019, some of the more creative egg-related events included the Guinness World Record for the largest scrambled egg which was made in Colombia and consisted of 59 758 eggs.
The massive meal later helped feed 15 000 vulnerable people; in Croatia a theatre festival for children was organised which attracted 1 200 children and was aimed at promoting the egg as a healthy food option; in Bangladesh, the Animal Agriculture Society distributed around 10 000 boiled eggs to those with low incomes, while in Ghana celebrations took place in Kumasi and included a quiz for schools based on egg nutrition and a donation of 60 000 eggs which was donated to children's and maternity wards at a local hospital.
Other egg-related acheivements in the Guinness Book of Records include:
- The heaviest egg, which weighed 454g and had a double yolk and double shell and was laid by a White Leghorn in New Jersey, US in 1956. (A normal chicken egg weighs between 50 and 70g.)
- In June of this year, clearly bored with lockdown, a man living in Malaysia was awarded a Guinness World Record for his unusual accomplishment of stacking three eggs vertically and getting them to stay there for five seconds.
- The highest number of eggs laid by a chicken is 371 eggs in 364 days. The usual rate is between 260 and 280.
According to the South African Poultry Association, the per capita consumption of eggs for the country in 2017 was 128.2 eggs per person, which placed South Africa well below the rest of the world. Mexico and Japan lead the way with per capita consumptions of 371 and 331 eggs respectively.
Nevertheless, eggs remain a popular item on most South African breakfast menu - whether scrambled, fried, boiled, poached or turned into an omelette - and they are an essential ingredient in many recipes for baked goods.
Indeed, eggs play an important role in everything from cakes and cookies to meringues and pastry cream as they create structure and stability within a batter, help thicken and emulsify sauces and custards, add moisture to pastries and can even act as glue or glaze.
As simple as it is to cook an egg, there are a number of handy tips that everyone should know in order to create the perfect result.
We asked the chefs from Capsicum Culinary Studio to share their best egg secrets and here's what they had to say:
- Always crack your eggs into a small bowl before adding them to the pan. When you crack eggs directly into the pan, you risk getting shell fragments in your eggs. Also, by cracking eggs into a bowl first means your eggs cook evenly and you can control exactly where in the pan you want your eggs to land.
- When frying eggs always cook them over a low heat to prevent them from going brown and becoming tough.
- For scrambled eggs, pass them through a fine mesh strainer before adding them to the pan and always use butter rather than oil for a fluffier end result.
- Always take your eggs off the heat before they're done cooking as they will continue to cook even when not on direct heat.
- When poaching eggs, always crack them into a small bowl before adding them into the boiling water. This will prevent the egg from going everywhere and allow you to gently transfer them into the water. Using fresh eggs also helps them keep their shape and stay nice and round.
- Also, when poaching eggs, pre-boil them in their shells for 10-20 seconds beforehand to firm up the whites and keep them perfectly shaped.
- Peel boiled eggs under cold, running water and always start peeling them from the air pocket, which is located at the bottom of the egg where a tiny bubble of air is trapped. Peeling it from there prevents you from tearing the egg apart.
- If you store your eggs in the fridge, always take them out an hour or so before using them for cooking or baking so they are at room temperature.
- Did you know you can also bake eggs? Here's a simple recipe: Set your oven to 180°C, grease a muffin tray with non-stick cooking spray, crack your eggs into each muffin space, add a little salt and pepper and bake for about 15 minutes. For the complete breakfast, line each muffin cup with a rasher of bacon or two before adding the egg. Cut a cherry tomato in half and pop it on the top and hey presto - bacon, eggs and tomato!
Finally, did you know that there's no difference between brown and white eggs? White eggs are laid by hens with white feathers and brown eggs are laid by brown or red hens. There's no discernible difference in taste or quality.
The only real difference is the price, as brown eggs will sometimes cost you a bit extra because some people believe they're more natural. They're not! For truly natural eggs, you have to go organic.
If you want to hone your cooking skills even further, then think about Capsicum Culinary Studios internationally recognised and accredited Chef 101 course which you can do from the comfort of your own home.
This top international digital learning platform guides users through culinary technique building blocks, giving them the ability to launch themselves into further studies, a career as a chef or to become an amazing home cook. Chef 101 includes 20 cooking courses.
To find out more information or to register go to www.capsicumcooking.com and click on 'Online Courses'.
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