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Egg sizes and substitutions

By Brian Geiger, contributor

August 6th, 2009

Kitchen Mysteries is a weekly exploration of oddities surrounding cooking and food. They could be recipes that fail when they shouldn't, conflicting advice from different sources, or just plain weirdness. If it happens in a kitchen, and you're not sure why, send a tweet to The Food Geek to find out what's happening.

Elizabeth asks via twitter:

The size labels for eggs are a bit misleading. The USDA size guidelines don't have anything to do with the volume of the egg directly. In fact, the USDA "size" guidelines are determined by how heavy a dozen eggs are.

According to a USDA PDF on choosing eggs that I found, sizes go something like this:

 

  • Jumbo eggs are at least 30 ounces to the dozen.
  • Extra large eggs are at least 27 ounces to the dozen.
  • Large eggs are at least 24 ounces to the dozen.
  • Medium eggs are at least 21 ounces to the dozen.
  • Small eggs are at least 18 ounces to the dozen.
  • Peewee eggs are at least 15 ounces to the dozen.

There's even a "peewee" egg size. That's fantastic.

Most recipes call for large eggs, probably partially because it's a very common egg size, but probably mostly because there are 24 ounces to the dozen, which means that it's 2 ounces per egg. This means that if you're baking a dish that requires 3 large eggs, what you really want is 6 oz of eggs.

I wouldn't stress too much if you can't find the exact combination of eggs to give you the proper weight, as there's about 6 ounces of difference between medium eggs and extra large eggs, which is 1/4 of the weight of a dozen large eggs. This means that, even with large eggs, 3 eggs could be between 5.25 ounces and 6.75 ounces. You have some leeway.

 

posted in: Blogs, food geek, baking, egg, weight, farmers market, size
Comments (10)

WyoRichard writes: Yes Your correct in the Young hens,

The name has obviously been altered over the years as these were ALWAYS called Pullet hens and the eggs Pullet eggs...

Another example of revisionist Language and Thinking.

Wyo Posted: 7:03 pm on January 6th

GeorgeCooks writes: I thought double-yolked eggs were just an accident, not a result of size. How can they tell those Jumbo eggs will have 2 yolks (short of X-ray vision)? Posted: 4:38 pm on August 25th

kathy978 writes: I inherited some older cookbooks from my great-aunt. In a Betty Crocker cookbook from 1937, it said to measure eggs by the cup in all their cake recipes. So, according to the USDA guidelines listed above, if a recipe calls for 3 large eggs, they should measure about 6 oz. Then you just fill the measuring cup until it's at 3/4 C. I'm no expert, but I believe the amount of eggs in a cake is crucial for success. I get farm eggs too. Sometimes I'll have pee-wee's up to what I could swear is a goose egg in the same carton! They make the best omelettes or scrambled eggs we've ever had. Posted: 11:21 am on August 13th

jennifers writes: Jumbo eggs may be an exception. Jumbos are usually double-yolked eggs, and I use them for custards so I have less egg-white waste.

If all I have in the fridge are Jumbo eggs, how do I make a recipe that calls for three large eggs? That extra yolk is definitely going to make a difference, isn't it? Posted: 7:33 pm on August 12th

Itsgigi writes: What really bothers me is that what used to be "large" eggs seems to have become smaller in the past few years. When a recipe calls for "large" eggs, I almost always used "Xtra Large" because the others look "medium" to me. I have been baking and cooking for a long time, and I think the egg producers are giving less for the same price. I'm not sure that it makes a great difference in most recipes, but I still will opt for the "Xtra Large". I also buy Jumbo for eating; it looks better on the plate! Posted: 5:49 pm on August 12th

AlexisMH writes: Thanks, this is all really helpful. My eggs come from my backyard and they're all different sizes, depending on which hen layed what. And since they're right out of the nestbox, I can weigh a single egg easily to figure out its size. Posted: 4:32 pm on August 12th

SheMichaels writes: A Greenmarket vendor told me that "Peewees" were the eggs from his very young hens as they just begin to lay. I would suppose they'd be most plentiful in the early Spring. Posted: 4:27 pm on August 12th

SheMichaels writes: A Greenmarket vendor told me that "Peewees" were the eggs from his very young hens as they just begin to lay. I would suppose they'd be most plentiful in the early Spring. Posted: 4:27 pm on August 12th

Pat1969 writes: I agree with Monelle. I usually bu my eggs at a discount store where all of the eggs are extra large. I really haven't seen that they have made a difference in recipes calling just for large eggs. However, there IS a difference if you happen on medium eggs. You are going to have to use the beat and then measure technique for that. It appears to me that a little extra doesn't hurt, but using less in baking or in souffles is courting failure. Posted: 3:52 pm on August 12th

monelle writes: It's all well and good for the weight of a dozen eggs to be a measuring guide; however, in a carton of eggs, there are more likely to be eggs of different sizes and so the theory is shot. I have discovered that using extra-large eggs even when large eggs are called for doesn't make any difference in the outcome; in fact, I think the tiny bit of difference enhances the finished product. Posted: 3:12 pm on August 12th

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