Here’s Why Eggs Are Best in Spring


Here we are, on the cusp of spring, Passover and Easter on the horizon, and eggs, admittedly mostly brightly colored and plastic or chocolate, are everywhere. If ever there was a time to get back to the market and enjoy the simple pleasure of a fresh egg, this would be it.

“You can get eggs all year round; of course you can,” says John Stoltzfoos, of Millport Farms, opening up cartons of blue ancona hen eggs at his stall in Union Square. “But you can’t beat an egg in spring.”

Why is spring the universally acknowledged time for eggs? That goes back to our ancestral heritage; in a world without electricity, chickens lay more in spring because suddenly, there’s more light. With eight or more hours of light a day, chickens are happy to pop out an egg every morning. Less light, fewer eggs.

“Chickens won’t go outside in the dark,” says Ed Huff of Central Valley Farm. “So we turn the light on inside in the morning in winter to give them the same amount of light — but it’s good when they can go outside sooner and scratch about. We have chickens running everywhere.”

When you’re picking eggs, color is not a big factor on taste, so let your aesthetics guide you. But bottom line: Fresher is better. If you’ve always had problems with poached eggs that float into the pan in waves of alien plasma, chances are you weren’t using a fresh enough egg.

“We collect them every day,” says Huff. “Actually, it’s my son’s job to collect the eggs — when he doesn’t try to get someone else to do it for him!”

Some (simple) eating ideas (seriously, when did you last just eat a boiled egg?):

  • Soft-boiled with soldiers: Pop into simmering water, and leave for exactly 6 minutes (and it really must be a simmer, not a rolling boil) served with toasted brioche “soldiers” and fat roasted asparagus spears for dipping.
  • Medium boiled with frisée salad (7 to 8 minutes), and peeled over a salad of frisée and lardons tossed in the bacon oil and lemon juice.
  • En cocotte: Cracked into a ramekin, topped with a scant covering of cream, seasoned well and baked in a bain-marie at 350°F for about 12 to 15 minutes (until the white is set).
  • Whipped omelet: separate, and whisk the whites before folding in the yolks, gruyere, and fresh mint, then cook, finishing up under the broiler so that the omelet soufflés up.
  • Scrambled: melted butter, salt and pepper, eggs, low low heat, stirring and patience. Stir in some lox scraps right at the end and serve with a sprinkling of chives.
  • Mini bacon frittatas: Spray a mini muffin tray with cooking oil. Crack a box of eggs and whisk in 1/4 cup milk. Mix in a handful of cheddar cheese and a handful of crumbled bacon. Pour over the egg, top with grated cheese. Bake at 375 for 8 to 10 minutes until set.
  • Fried, then served on top of a thick cut slice of ham. Heaven.