As we've mentioned before, a benefit to shopping at your local farmers' market is that you're bound to run into new or unusual ingredients, things that a conventional grocery store doesn't have access to or has perhaps forgotten about. Pullet eggs, or eggs laid by chickens less than one year old, are a great example of this. Read on for more information.
These days, it's hard to find any small eggs in the grocery store. As egg production has become more industrialized, we're pretty much stuck with large and extra-large eggs, with the occasional medium. Apparently, smaller eggs are usually shipped out to the powdered egg factory, which is a shame because they can be a treat.
Pullet eggs are from chickens who are just getting the hang of laying eggs. They are noticeably smaller than regular eggs and can even occasionally be quite tiny as the hens work out their learning curve. Some small eggs do come from miniature hens, but likely the ones you would find at the farmers' markets are pullet eggs.
Pullet eggs from your local farm are delicious and are often snatched up by pastry chefs-in-the-know for their richness. Some say that the yolks are bigger, or that they are almost all yolk, but I haven't experienced that so far.
I love pullet eggs for their size. They're especially sweet as fried or deviled eggs. I've also heard of people using them at Easter time for especially cute decorated eggs. The usual sized pastured eggs I get from my local farm (Soul Food Farm) are amazingly rich with brightly colored yolks (the photo above was not retouched or enhanced.) I think it's almost impossible for their pullets to be any richer but they sure are cute!
If you do score some pullets and want to bake with them, here's how they compare with other eggs. (Figures are from the USDA and are per dozen eggs.) An average recipe is based on large eggs; the pullets are usually small or peewee, so adjust accordingly.
Standard Egg Sizes (Weight Per Dozen)
Jumbo: 30 ounces
Extra Large: 27 ounces
Large: 24 ounces
Medium: 21 ounces
Small: 18 ounces
Peewee: 15 ounces
(Originally published June 2, 2010)
(Images: Dana Velden)