Eggs are laid by female birds. Eggs are the unfertilized and therefore undeveloped baby bird. Whereas different types of birds can lay eggs, when we use the word "egg" we refer to those laid by hens; female chickens. Some other types of eggs that are much less common are: duck eggs, quail eggs, pigeon, turkey, or goose eggs.

Eggs are composed of:

  • shell (which is porous)
  • shell membrane (thin lining just under the shell)
  • chalaza (the white cord that holds the yolk suspended in the centre)
  • albumen (egg white)
  • air cell or air pocket (to allow for the chick's first breath of air should it have reached maturity)
  • vitelline membrane (lining of the egg yolk)
  • egg yolk (yellow portion)
  • germinal disc (2-3mm white disc on the outside of the yolk where sperm would enter the egg and where the embryo would develop)

In Canada, the CFIA grades eggs as either A, B, or C. It is based on outside and inside characteristics. To evaluate the inside composition as well as to look for cracks, plants use a technique called candling. Grading is done for uniformity and to meet consumer expectations. Eggs at the supermarket are Grade A. Lesser grades are used in commercial baking for the most part.

Market Forms

  • fresh (in-shell)
  • frozen (cracked liquid eggs)
  • dehydrated (egg powder for baking)
  • liquid (in a carton, mostly for large production)
  • liquid yolks (for pastry cooking mainly)
  • liquid egg white


Eggs are very nutritious. They are high in protein (egg whites), contain vitamins and minerals, and fat (yolk). However since the fat is saturated, we should still not consume egg yolks in excess.

Food Safety

Since coming from the intestine of chickens, eggs can potentially contain harmful salmonella. Egg shells are cleaned in packing houses however if they are not fully cleaned, or are contaminated afterwards, bacteria can enter through small cracks in the eggs. That is why it is advised that pregnant women and others with certain health conditions make sure to only consume eggs which have been fully cooked. It is possible to pasteurize eggs on your own by bringing eggs to 60 degrees C for at least 3 minutes and 30 seconds.

Eggs should be stored in the refrigerator and can last one month if store properly.

History and Cultural Significance

Alberta has a somewhat large population of Ukrainian (as well as other eastern European groups). The Ukrainians brought their food culture of pysanki and krashanky, Ukrainian Easter eggs, to the province. The eggs are painted and decorated with folk motifs and are identifiable. (Canadian Food Words, p 218).

Ways to Cook

Eggs are extremely versatile! They are a staple in every kitchen: hot or cold, bakery and pastry kitchens too. If you have eggs on hand, you can make:

  • hard boiled eggs for cold sandwiches, canapes, devilled eggs, egg salad, main course salads
  • breakfast preparations (over easy, over medium, over hard, sunny side up, basted eggs, shirred eggs, eggs en cocotte, poached eggs, omelettes
  • brunch items such as frittatas, quiches, eggs Benedict
  • other lunch and main course items such as shakshuka, hot sandwiches, and poached eggs on top of protein bowls
  • cold sauces such as mayonnaise (permanent emulsion) or coddled and emulsified and puréed such as with spinach
  • baked or battered goods such as pancakes, waffles, cakes, muffins, cookies
  • meringues, mousses, bavarian cream
  • ice cream and frozen custards
  • cheese cake
  • egg noodles
  • brioche and high-fat bread doughs
  • egg-wash for topping pies, pâtés and other baked goods
  • hollandaise sauce
  • used as a binder in forcemeats, meat loaf, meat balls
  • fried and topped onto rice dishes, veggies dishes, noodles dishes

Allergen Alert

Eggs are one of the top 10 food allergens in Canada - https://foodallergycanada.ca/allergies/egg/

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