Most of the world is accustom to eating eggs year round but eggs are truly a seasonal food if we really allow our animals to live their life naturally. From October through February, chickens do the equivalent of a bear hibernating, they slow their egg production down considerably and sometimes don't lay at all during that time. This is the time for them to rest and allow their bodies to focus on surviving the winter. The lack of light and the colder temperatures impact them greatly. Egg production is the first thing to go when the chicken is focusing on keeping itself warm. Plus, it instinctively knows when temperatures are below 40 degrees, it's not a safe time to bring forth a baby chick.
But in late February/early March, a switch is turned on and the chickens know that spring is arriving soon. They begin to increase production and by April, most chicken farmers can barely keep up with gathering eggs.
Many chefs prefer these early season eggs and find them a gourmet delight. It's understandable...the chickens are feasting on delicate, young sprouts filled with bright green chlorophyll and other young tender plants which are emerging from their winter's sleep. All of this lends itself to creating a deep, rich, orange-y yolk that can't compare to even a summer egg. These eggs make for a true spring time culinary feast!
Right now, our hens are out of control with their laying! (Really, I'm not complaining!) I have a household of boys who love their eggs so they are enjoying them abundantly. Farmer Jon poaches them, fries them, scrambles them and layers them into breakfast every single day for the boys. They really don't realize how spoiled they are with their dad's breakfasts! I, on the other hand, prefer hard boiled eggs. I've been boiling 2 dozen every week or so. Hard boiled eggs make great snacks for the kids and I love having them before I go out for a run. They are an ideal nutritional food, full of protein, vitamins D, A and B plus good fats, calcium and other minerals.
We try to eat as seasonably as we can, meaning we fill our plates with foods that are in season. We do this for a couple of reasons: A) We try to be self-sufficient so we are eating whatever our farm/gardens are producing, B) It's cheaper to eat seasonal food than out of season eats! Think about avocados in November or strawberries in December? Expensive, right?! But when they are in season and abundant, they are cheap and affordable. And our final reason of eating seasonably is we feel our bodies are in tune with the seasons and need the foods nature is providing us with at that time. Rarely does my body crave heavy, fatty foods during the summer but man, when the first dark day of late fall arrives, watch out...I'm baking breads and slathering it with butter, cooking pasta with cream sauces and of course, I can never eat enough meat through the winter. But come spring, I shed those cravings and begin eating lighter and fresher. Our bodies know the seasons...we really should listen to them!
Easter was last week and it was a perfect opportunity to showcase our lovely eggs plus to relish some other seasonal goodies! I found this gorgeous spring recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens April magazine. It lured me in with its hard boiled eggs, roasted asparagus, lox and fresh dill! Plus, it was a gorgeous looking presentation. Farmer Jon was skeptical as he watched me prepare this dish, but he was wonderfully surprised at how all the flavors came together into one brilliant dish! My oldest son said, "Mom, this dish is dangerous!" as he kept going back for seconds! I will be making this dish again this spring! (Hopefully next spring we can begin harvesting some of our newly planted asparagus!)
Whatever way you like eggs, I really encourage you do take advantage of the abundance of them this spring and enjoy them to your heart's content. To really experience the seasonality of eggs I can't stress enough to seek out farm fresh eggs vs. store bought. Free ranged chickens are going to produce those yolks bursting with spring color and flavor!
If you are in the Missoula area, please stop by our farm for eggs. We have them for sale everyday!