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Chicken or the Egg Shell?

June 7, 2017
BY CHUCK CLEGG - Columnist , Wetzel Chronicle

A short time back, Earl and I went to breakfast at Quinet's. Mary and Connie had decided that they wanted to take a quick shopping trip to the mall. Not wanting to drag us along, they gave us the approval to stay behind. Earl and I were devastated that we could not go, so we decided to feed our sorrows. We would go out for breakfast. Let me reiterate "We were broken-hearted not to have to accompany them to the mall." Yea, right.

Breakfast at Quinet's meant consoling our grief with omelets. As I entered, I saw Pam Brill cutting up eggs. She had about four dozen to work up for salads. At first I felt a little sorry for her to have to peel each egg before cutting it. I know how difficult a task that can be. Then I noticed that she was not peeling the eggs. They were bagged by the dozen, pre-peeled. Will wonders never cease? But it got me to wondering how this miracle of peeled eggs came about.

Recently I had some experience with peeling eggs. Mary asked me to boil her a couple for work. Being a good retired house husband, I wanted to make sure I boiled the eggs correctly. Now, as simple as boiling eggs sounds, there is an art to it. I looked at the internet, and it told me to make a perfect boiled egg, I need to first place it in cold water. Then bring it to a full boil. Next, turn off the heat and let it sit for twelve minutes. After that, place it in cold water. It said the shell would almost fall off. Well, let me say. it did not peel easily. In fac,t it looked like it had been peeled with a weed eater.

I began asking people how they boiled eggs to make them peel easily. Most said to add salt to the water, lots of salt. A couple others said don't use fresh eggs. I am sorry, I like to know my eggs are still good. Mary makes me read the date label and make sure there are no cracked eggs in the package before I buy them. As to freshness from the business end of the chicken, not real sure how you can tell. But if they are bad, there is no doubt.

Another person told me the best way to cook them, so they peel easy, is to make them in an electric pressure cooker. Sounds logical, but a lot of trouble for a couple eggs.

I decided to find out how the eggs Pam was peeling are commercially processed. I went on line where I discovered the big producers boil their eggs in a slightly alkaline water solution. Next, they roll the eggs to crack the shells on the outside. After they cool just a bit, each egg is rolled through a chamber where air is blown over them, removing the shells. Finally, they are placed in tanks where currents of cold water remove the remaining pieces of shells. The wonders of modern industrial science. Eggs without shells fresh from the factory.

After hearing how the big egg producers remove the shells, I decided I would try it for myself. I took an egg from the refrigerator and smelled it. It didn't smell bad, don't ask how I know that. Next, I need something alkaline to add to the boiling water, whatever that is? Mary did not have any alkaline in her cabinet of spices, so I just decided to add salt to the water. Next, I boiled it for a full ten minutes. While it was still hot, I rolled it between the palm of my hand and the kitchen counter, cracking the shell. Now the hard part: Blow forceful air across the cracked shell to remove it. The only thing I could think of was my shop vacuum, with the suction hose on the exhaust port. I place the egg in the hose and turned it on. I think I should have tried placing the egg inside after it was running. It flew about 50 feet out the hose's nozzle. Now, I know what you are thinking. Did he really do that? Yes, I did, but purely in the name of discovery. And yes, Mary thinks I am a little crazy. Understand, I had no intentions of sending the egg with Mary to work. It was just to see if for the purposea of this story it would work. When it landed, it hadn't removed any eggs shell, it simply broke in two pieces, tuff egg.

Like everything else in our world, we have lots of choices. Take buying eggs. You can buy small eggs, large eggs. Extra-large grade A eggs. Eggs from free range chickens. Eggs with no antibiotics. White eggs and brown eggs. There are chickens that lay green eggs, speckled eggs and blue. Wouldn't Dr. Seuss have fun with that? Low cholesterol eggs and egg beaters. The simple farm fresh egg seems to be a thing of the past, except for the ones my brother-in-law drops off on occasions.

One more interesting chicken fact before I end my story: If you remember last winter, Mary and I went on a Caribbean cruise. We arrived at sunrise at the island of Antigua. As we stepped out on our balcony to watch the sun come up over the island, we were surprised by what we heard. Roosters crowing. I am not talking about a few roosters, I am talking about hundreds if not a thousand announcing the morning's arrival to the islands inhabitants.

During my extensive research on the island, I tried to find out the answer to something I had wondered about for a long time: Which came first, the chicken or the egg. The answer is sorry, I hear Mary returning home from shopping. If you are wondering about that age old question, I guess you will have to head to Antigua and find out for yourselves.

Until next time, when I try and understand another of life's great questions. If I can power my vacuum up enough to send an egg across the road, will I discoverer why the chicken crossed it? Hope Mary don't find out I used another egg, trying to answer another of life's great mysteries, as we looked Through the Lens.



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