Eggcyclopedia

Welcome to the The Incredible Edible Egg™ Eggcyclopedia, where you can access the latest egg information from A-Z. The Eggcyclopedia was developed by the American Egg Board (AEB) on behalf of America's egg farmers who are committed to caring for their hens and producing high-quality eggs for you and your families.

Just click on any letter below to bring up a list of egg terms and their related definitions.

Games

The egg’s fragility probably accounts for its popularity in games down through the centuries.

Egg Hunt

Hiding colored or decorated eggs around the house or garden for youngsters to find has long been an Easter morning tradition. In addition to private-home egg hunts, some organizations and communities hold very large public egg hunts.

Egg Toss

Along with a sack race, an egg toss is a popular picnic game. In an egg toss, partners line up in two rows facing each other. Every member on one side tosses a raw egg across. After each successful catch, the players step backward, adding to the difficulty of the next catch. This is repeated until all but one egg is broken. The couple with the last unbroken egg wins.

Egg Rolling

According to the White House Historical Association, the traditional egg rolling that takes place on the lawn of the White House or Capitol building started in 1878. President and Mrs. Hayes invited children to play at the White House when they were turned away from the Capitol building. Similar events are held in many other locations throughout the country. The United States, however, can’t take credit for inventing the custom. Egg rolling was mentioned in a Latin treatise in 1684.

Many variations of egg rolling contests and games are played. In England and Scotland, children roll eggs downhill and the last child with an unbroken egg is the winner. In another version of egg rolling, the players push the egg to the finish line using only their noses. Very similar are egg races in which the players try to send emptied eggshells across the finish line by fanning them with a piece of cardboard or by blowing them. Since eggs are not round, winning is not as easy as it might seem.

Egg Tapping

Many countries continue the age-old ritual of egg tapping or egg-shackling. For example, Greeks form a circle and tap scarlet eggs, one against the other. The one finishing with an unbroken egg may claim all the other eggs. (The trick is protecting as much of the egg as possible with your fingers.)

Pace Egging

Up until modern times, children in English villages carried on an old sport called pace-egging. The name comes from Pasch, which means Easter in most European countries. This derives from Pesach, the Hebrew Passover which falls at the same time of the year. Similar to Halloween trick-or-treaters, pace-eggers went from house to house in costume or with paper streamers and bright ribbons attached to their clothes. Faces blackened or masked, they sang or performed skits and demanded pace-eggs, either colored hard-boiled eggs or substitutes such as candy and small coins.

– See Decorating Eggs, Easter Eggs

Germinal Disc

The entrance of the latebra, the channel leading to the center of the yolk. The germinal disc is barely noticeable as a slight depression on the surface of the yolk. If an egg is fertilized, sperm enter through the germinal disc, travel to the yolk center and a chick embryo starts to form.

– See Composition, Formation

Gluten Free

All eggs are naturally gluten free. If a chicken is fed a grain that contains gluten, i.e., wheat or barley, the gluten is broken down during the digestive process (within the chicken) and is not passed into the body tissues or any products produced by the chicken.

Grading

Classification determined by the interior and exterior quality of the egg at the time it is packed. In some egg-packing plants, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides a voluntary grading service for shell eggs. The official USDA grade shield on an egg carton certifies that the eggs have been processed, packaged and certified under federal supervision according to the U.S. Standards, Grades and Weight Classes for Shell Eggs established by USDA. Plant processing equipment, facilities, sanitation and operating procedures are continuously monitored by the USDA egg grader.

In the grading process, eggs are examined for both interior and exterior quality before they’re sorted according to weight (size). Grade quality and weight (size) are not related to one another. Eggs of any quality grade may differ in weight (size). In descending order of quality, grades are designated AA, A and B.

Exterior Quality

The first step in egg grading is to examine the shell for cleanliness, soundness, texture and shape. Shell color isn’t a factor in judging quality. All eggs must be clean to pass grading requirements, but a small amount of staining is permitted in Grade B. All eggs must have unbroken shells. Eggshells with cracks or markedly unsound, or flawed, shells are classified as restricted eggs. The ideal eggshell shape is oval with one end larger than the other. Abnormal shells, permitted for Grade B eggs, may be decidedly misshapen or faulty in texture with ridges, thin spots or rough areas.

Interior Quality

The next step in grading is examination of the interior of the egg. This is done by candling or by the breakout method using the Haugh unit system to evaluate the albumen (white), yolk and air cell (not done in commercial processing). Albumen is judged on the basis of clarity and firmness or thickness. A clear albumen is free from discolorations or from any floating foreign bodies. When an egg is rotated over the candling light, its yolk swings toward the shell. The distinctness of the yolk outline depends on how close to the shell the yolk moves, which is influenced by the thickness of the surrounding albumen. Thick albumen permits limited yolk movement while thin albumen permits greater movement – the less movement, the thicker the white and the higher the grade. Factors determining yolk quality are distinctness of outline, size and shape and absence of such defects as blemishes or mottling, embryo development or blood spots. Higher-grade eggs have shallower air cells. In Grade AA eggs, the air cell may not exceed 1/8 inch in depth and is about the size of a dime. Grade A eggs may have air cells over 3/16 inch in depth. There is no limit on air cell size for Grade-B eggs. While air-cell size is considered in grading and eggs take in air as they age, the size of the air cell does not necessarily relate to freshness because size varies from the moment contraction occurs after laying. To judge freshness, use carton dates.

– See Air Cell, Blood Spots, Breakout, Buying, Candling, Egg Products Inspection Act, Formation, Haugh Unit, Restricted Eggs, Shell, Yolk