THE QUESTION:

(This question came to me over Twitter, hence its brevity.)

What’s up with watery egg whites? I read real fresh eggs or old hen I only get eggs at the farm mrkt – think it’s the farm?

THE ANSWER

There is a lot of conflicting ideas out there about why some eggs have a watery or runny consistency.  Is it from a lack of protein in the hen’s feed?  Or maybe these eggs aren’t fresh?  After wading through a lot of online forums, which were not providing straight answers, I found BackyardChickens.com to be particularly informative. Keep in mind that I’m no chicken farmer!

I didn’t find a definitive answer for watery whites, but it doesn’t appear to have anything to do with the freshness of the eggs or how the chicken was raised.  Here are six conclusions from BackyardChickens.com:

1. Occasional eggs with spreading (runny) whites are observed originating from apparently normal flocks.
2. The runny eggs tend to be laid by the same hens.
3. The existence of runny eggs has nothing to do with freshness; it can be observed in newly laid eggs.
4. The albumen height and Haugh unit rating is not different between runny and normal eggs.
5. There are differences in biochemical composition between normal and runny eggs.
6. There appears to be a genetic effect on the incidence of runny eggs, suggesting that selection might
reduce the incidence.

Now all of that makes me kind of dizzy, truth be told (Haugh unit??). I kind of understand what it all means, but not really. If I had an egg with watery whites or yolks or anything that gave me pause, I’d just ask my farmer. It’s really the best option, and one I take advantage of as much as possible. It can only be done when you know the person who grew your veggies, raised your chickens, and harvested your eggs. My farmers offer explanations and advice as only they’re equipped to do. And I find them all very reassuring. If these eggs came from a farmers’ market, march right on over to the farmer and ask him or her what’s up. I have a feeling you’ll be glad you did. If they didn’t come from a market, you might prefer buying eggs from someone you can talk to and query when you want to.

Any egg-o-philes out there have a different take on this question? Speak up!