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Egg Battle: Stewart’s vs. HWFC

June 25, 2013

This is bad science. My trial has an n of one. But the truth of the matter is that there are only so many eggs that I can possibly eat in a day.

A while back I talked about the benefits of Stewart’s eggs. Incredibly, our local convenience store has such a short supply chain that the eggs in their dairy case arrive just three days after being laid. Why is this important? Because people insist that the best poached eggs come from those that were most recently laid.

But there are other things important about eggs too, like the living conditions of the chickens and what they are given to eat. Last week I was at the brand new Honest Weight Food Co-op for their grand opening, and this market has a head-spinning selection of eggs that are more sustainably raised.

While I prefer to eat eggs that come from happy chickens, I also want them to poach up beautifully. And I had concerns that a smaller producer at the HWFC couldn’t possibly get its eggs to market as quickly as Stewart’s.

So I decided to have the eggs battle it out. I even took pictures. And this is what I found.


In all of these shots, the Stewart’s egg is on the left, and the HWFC egg is on the right. Officially, the eggs I selected came from Bluebird Hill Farm. Here’s what the label said:

These multi-colored eggs include Guinea eggs from North Greenbush, NY. Raised on pasture and free to roam, Bluebird Hill has only happy chickens. And if you believe in learning by diffusion these chickens might be over the bell curve since they live next [to] Rob Parker school. Enjoy good eggs.

While there were some key words missing in the description, these sounded like pretty idyllic eggs.


I picked two eggs of equal weight, down to the gram, and cracked them into small bowls to inspect their contents. Here the HWFC egg had the distinct advantage in terms of yolk size and color.


But then they went into acidulated the boiling water and my hypothesis that the Stewart’s egg would perform better was proved to be true. This very young egg had whites that clung to the yolk and protected the nucleus of the cell from the hot hot water. The egg from Bluebird Hill (of unknown age) didn’t quite come together.


You can see how the HWFC egg has a visible patch of exposed yolk that is effectively overcooked. The poaching method is very gentle and I’ve been careful, so hopefully the yolk is still runny on the inside.


Flipping the eggs around and looking at their presentation side, the Stewart’s egg still just looks nicer. Even though the eggs started at the same weight, the Stewart’s egg looks full and plump.


But when you split the eggs open on a slice of toast, the dynamics of the whites is no longer as important as the vibrancy of the yolks. The Stewart’s eggs are a much richer yellow than supermarket eggs, but they pale in comparison to what I got from the HWFC. Still, the careful observer can see some hard cooked yolk around the edges of the Bluebird Hill egg.

In the end it’s all about tradeoffs. I had been willing to sacrifice preferred animal husbandry practices for the three day hen-to-store timeline of Stewart’s eggs. But then again, the farmers market eggs I hadn’t been getting didn’t contain yolks as beautiful as these from Bluebird Hill.

The problem isn’t just aesthetic. When the whites don’t fully form around the yolk it’s really easy to overcook a poached egg. It matters more if you are cooking a bunch of eggs at the same time.

So to that end, I might recommend the Stewart’s eggs if you are working on your egg poaching skills. And once you get confident in pulling out an egg and poking it with your finger to determine doneness, then you might be ready to attempt poaching eggs that might pose more challenges.

Really, the best answer is to have your own chickens. That’s not in the cards for me right now. Maybe one day. But I can dare to dream.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 25, 2013 9:27 am

    Nice work. If HWC, in its zeal to have a blinding variety of happy eggs, orders so many that they sit around… that’s a problem. We get our eggs from the lamb lady at the Saratoga Farmer’s Market and they’re always very fresh. Less variety, but what we want. Also, how long after the HWC visit did you do this test? If they sat around a few days, that’s giving Stewarts an unfair advantage.

  2. Mike H permalink
    June 25, 2013 10:07 am

    But you did not adress the most implrtant question. How did the taste compare?

  3. June 25, 2013 11:30 am

    I’m not a fan of poached eggs, but if I were, I would really miss living in France, where every egg gets stamped with a “laid on” date (“pondu le [date]”) I don’t use a lot of eggs, so ultra-freshness doesn’t matter so much to me except that newer eggs I buy from the farmer will last longer compared to whatever is at the bottom of the stack at Price Chopper.

    I would be curious to learn what HWFC’s farmer supply chain is, and how the eggs get from these far-flung farms to their shelves. Is there a distributor who picks them up from the small farms? Do the farmers make weekly egg drops at the co-op if they want to?

    I could just ask, if I cared about it so much. Which evidently I don’t, because I haven’t asked.

  4. enough already! permalink
    June 25, 2013 4:15 pm

    I second mike h’s query regarding taste. From my experience, the darker and more orange-colored, the tastier. Soooo…how did they taste?

  5. June 27, 2013 2:49 pm

    Our eggs come daily from many different local farms. They are delivered in small batches and some farms make multiple trips in a week. We also carry national organic eggs but LOVE the taste and variety of local eggs and building relationships with our AMAZING local vendors.

    Daniel, we want to know too… How did they taste?

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