There is no really other way to put it: this quiche is insanely delicious. Whether you serve it for brunch, dinner, or any time in between, it’s worth every single calorie. You could even do away with the crust and it will cut down on prep time, cook time, and carbs — and everyone knows the cheesy custard is the best part anyway.
I make quiche for breakfast every holiday. With Easter just behind us, I got to thinking about how many eggs were consumed over the Easter Holiday. I love eggs prepared many different ways but was reminded how many people don’t have a clue what they are buying when they buy eggs.
What kind of eggs do you buy? Did it ever occur to you that you might even be overpaying for your eggs from the grocery store? When shopping for eggs, you will inevitably to notice that the brown eggs usually cost more than the white. Some may think that one is better than the other, but the truth is they’re not very different at all. There is a difference between brown eggs and white eggs, but it might not be all it’s cracked up to be. Let me eggsplain.
Approximately 90% of all eggs sold in grocery stores are from caged chickens. They have less than one square foot to move around, they never go outside, and they eat a feed of GMO, soy or corn. These eggs are the worst you can buy due to the color, taste and texture, this includes both white and brown eggs.
What’s the difference between brown eggs and white eggs?
Eggshells get their color due to the breed of chicken they come from. For example, breeders have found that many white-feathered chickens with white earlobes lay white eggs, and red-feathered chickens with red earlobes lay brown eggs. While earlobe color can be a predictor of egg color, it is not always the rule.
For example, one breed of red-earlobed chickens—called the Aracuana breed—often lays blue eggs, but may also lay eggs that are green, pink, or even lavender.
Why are brown eggs more expensive than white eggs?
Because brown eggs tend to cost more, people assume they are more nutritious and more delicious. But that is not the case. Brown eggs are more expensive because of the size of the hen that lays them. Red-feathered chickens tend to weigh more than white-feathered chickens. Because larger chickens require more food and land to remain healthy throughout production, higher production costs lead to more expensive products in the end when you’re shopping for eggs in the grocery store.
Some people also think that one color shell is harder than the other, or that there are different colored yolks. These factors are due to the age and feed of the chicken. The coloring of shells or bird has nothing to do with this.
Whether you prefer to eat eggs scrambled and fluffy, runny atop a slice of avocado toast, hard boiled in a salad, or fried on top of a burger (trust me on that one), it makes no difference when picking between brown eggs and white eggs.
Regardless of which came first—the chicken or the egg, you can bet the first one was organic, raised outdoors without added drugs or chemicals. And as more people discover the health and environmental benefits of organic food, industrial poultry and egg production has fallen out of favor due to their heavy use of chemicals, drugs, and factory-farm settings.
Organic eggs, as well as conventional eggs, are described by weight per USDA standards. The six weight classes are: Jumbo, Extra Large, Large, Medium, Small, and Peewee.
In addition to weight, the USDA also sets quality grade standards for eggs. The standards measure the appearance and quality of the eggshell as well as the quality of the yolk and the egg white, or albumen. Eggs are rated AA, A or B based on the factor with the lowest rating. Therefore, even an egg with an AA yolk and albumen will be rated B if its eggshell is a B.
USDA Standards for Organic Eggs
To qualify as organic, eggs must come from chickens that are fed only organic feed (i.e., feed that is free of animal by-products, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or other chemical additives). No genetically modified foods can be used. Additionally, organic eggs must come from chickens that are given antibiotics only in the event of an infection—commercial chickens, on the other hand, are given antibiotics on a routine basis. No hormones or other drugs can be used in organic egg production.
Molting—when birds shed their older feathers to make room for new ones—is sometimes induced in commercial egg and chicken production by withholding food, water, or by other means. Molting extends the productive life of laying chickens, but it cannot be induced in chickens laying organic eggs; only natural molting is allowed to occur.
Organic eggs must come from chickens that live in cage-free environments and have access to the outdoors, even if their outdoor area is just a small pen or enclosed yard area. Don’t be fooled by the words caged free or free range. These words are just another deceptive marketing ploy tricking consumers into thinking they are buying better eggs and parting with their money. Cage free chickens only have less than one square foot to roam around making them very similar to the caged ones. Pens are used to protect the chickens and their eggs from predators like hawks, foxes, raccoons, coyotes, and other animals. Hundreds of birds are still penned in confined quarters as if they were still in a cage. Chickens like to flock together because they like body heat, and while the may have access to the outside through a small door in their barn, farmers hardly encourage them to go outside.
Organic Eggs vs. Free-Range Eggs vs. Vegetarian Eggs
Are organic eggs affordable? They’re not cheap. Organic eggs can cost up to $6/dozen, roughly double the cost of commercial eggs. This is largely due to the extra expenses involved in meeting organic certification requirements.
Free-range eggs aren’t necessarily the same as organic—the USDA requires that free-range eggs come from chickens that have access to a small, fenced patch of cement (which they may or may not use). Additionally, free-range chickens might eat non-organic feed and are sometimes given antibiotics or other drugs.
Similarly, sellers of vegetarian eggs, antibiotic-free eggs, or so-called “all-natural eggs” aren’t subject to the same scrutiny as organic eggs. Since nobody’s really checking, it’s up to the manufacturer to set their own standards for what constitutes a vegetarian egg. As always, caveat emptor when buying eggs, since you might or might not get what’s advertised.
Pastured eggs come from pastured chickens. While “pastured” can be used to describe any animal raised for meat or eggs, “pastured” is most often used to describe poultry and eggs from chickens that have been raised the way you imagine a chicken would want to live: they walk around in open fields and woods, they hunt and peck for food, and they go back into a hen house at night to roost, nest, and lay eggs. Without forced molting and lights, pastured eggs are also seasonal; you’ll see more available in the spring and summer, with supplies dipping low into fall and through winter.
Pastured, for the most part, means the animal was allowed to live on a pasture for most of its life. In the case of chickens, “pasture” could mean a pasture, a meadow, fallow fields, or even woods. On average, pastured chickens have 108 square feet to roam in comparison to caged, free range and cage free chickens.
The result in eggs is tremendous; they have deep yellow, even orange yolks from their greens-rich and varied diet, and the whites are clear and bouncy. Pastured eggs also have a different nutritional profile than all other eggs. A study done by Mother Earth News on pastured raised chickens versus commercial eggs revealed that organic pasture raised eggs have 21% more omega 3’s and 7 times more vitamin E than commercial eggs. However, all pastured eggs may not have the same nutritional value based of various factors. There are 28 factors that determine the score of a pastured egg. To see how pastured eggs are rated you can look at the egg scorecard at www.cornucopia.org.
Do pastured chickens just eat grass?
The simple answer is no, but that’s because, unlike grass-fed cows, chickens don’t naturally want to just eat grass. Pastured chickens can hunt and peck for food. They don’t eat grass, despite how it looks when a chicken hits a meadow, but primarily look for seeds and insects. They’ll also eat the occasional small rodent or reptile thrown in if they can catch them!
Pastured chickens often receive a supplemental feed in the winter or during dry months. This feed may or may not be certified organic (if the eggs are also labeled “organic” then the feed would need to be certified as such).
Are pastured eggs organic?
Sometimes they are and sometimes they’re not; it’s a separate issue. Eggs can be organic but not pastured, and they can be pastured but not certified as organic. Since they aren’t crowded together in unhealthy conditions, pastured chickens don’t tend to receive unnecessary antibiotics or hormones. If the eggs are labeled organic, they won’t come from chickens who were treated with either.
What does pastured mean?
“Pastured” doesn’t have a legal meaning or certification process. There are people, to be sure, who slap a “pastured” label on their eggs even though the chickens really just have an outdoor run alongside the chicken coop. Sure, the chickens are better off than in a factory farming situation, but they aren’t running on a pasture either.
Overall, pastured animals tend to be raised on small farms and the farmers often sell at farmers markets and other direct-to-consumer methods or through co-ops. It is usually easy to find out more about a specific farm that sells pastured meat or eggs since they are often rightfully proud of how they care for their animals.
My favorite commercial eggs to buy when I can’t buy from my local farmers market are Vital Farms Pasture Raised Eggs. They are certified humane which is a private certification. The yolks are vibrant, the flavor is great and nutritionally speaking their better than factory farmed eggs.
So, the next time you’re in the grocery market, don’t be a chicken! Pick wisely. Choose the eggcellent egg!
Keepin it Fresh!
Amazing Crustless Broccoli and Bacon Quiche
- April 24, 2019
- 1 hr 25 min
- 483 Cals/Serving
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- 2 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter, (plus more for greasing the pan)
- 1/2 cup Shallots, (chopped)
- 10 oz Broccoli Florets, (cut into 1-inch pieces or smaller)
- 1/2 lb. Bacon, (fried and crumbled)
- 1 tsp. Salt, (divided)
- ½ cup Tomatoes (chopped)
- 6 large Eggs
- 1-3/4 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- Pinch ground Nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
- 1 cup shredded Gruyère
- ½ cup shredded Cheddar
- Step 1
- Preheat the oven to 325°F degrees and set an oven rack in the middle position. Grease six mini quiche pans or one 9-inch deep dish pie plate with butter.
- Step 2
- Fry bacon till crisp. Crumble and set aside.
- Step 3
- Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Do not brown. Add the broccoli, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/3 cup water. Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli is al dente and the water has evaporated, add tomato and cook 3-4 minutes more. Set aside.
- Step 4
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the cream, nutmeg, remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, and cayenne pepper.
- Step 5
- Place crumbled bacon in the bottom of quiche pan.
- Step 6
- Spread the broccoli, tomatoes, and shallots evenly over the bottom of the prepared pie plate. Sprinkle the Gruyère and cheddar cheese over top. Pour the egg mixture over the cheese.
- Step 7
- If using a 9-inch pie pan, bake for about an hour, or until the custard is set and the top is golden brown. Let cool for about 10 minutes, then slice into wedges and serve. If you are using mini quiche pans bake for 30 mins.