EGG EDUCATION

Knowing the Difference Between Pasteurized and Pasture-Raised Eggs

By Deneé R. Woods

Are pasture-raised eggs the same thing as pasteurized eggs? That’ll be a hard no. Sorry, friends! We understand how tricky decoding the egg aisle can be. As similar as they may sound, pasteurized and pasture-raised mean two completely different things when it comes to your eggs. Confusing the two terms is more common than you’d think, so we’re taking a closer look at what each term really means for you and your Consider Pastures carton.

What are pasture-raised eggs?

Aside from the similarity in name, pasteurized eggs have nothing to do with pasture-raised eggs. In fact, the same dozen eggs can be one, both, or neither. The label pasture-raised speaks to the life of the laying hen and amount of outdoor access she enjoyed. Because it’s not a term regulated by the USDA, exact standards can vary from egg brand to egg brand but the general meaning of the term remains the same: pasture-raised hens are given the opportunity to roam on green, grassy pastures every single day. We’re committed to raising our hens to third-party certifier Certified Humane’s pasture-raised standards on each of our holistic farms.

In general, a pasture-raised flock enjoys anywhere from 35 to 108 square feet of pasture for every hen, and all Consider Pasture hens enjoy a minimum of 108 square feet each. This access to fresh air and open pastures affords laying hens a more fulfilling life, the ability to practice natural instincts and behaviors like dust bathing or foraging, and a nourishing, diverse species-appropriate diet. It’s safe to say that pasture-raised hens enjoy lush, sometimes luxurious lives. These perks explain why pasture-raised eggs like ours are often filled with amber yolks and wrapped in thick, sturdy shells.

What are pasteurized eggs?

Instead of addressing a farm’s approach to animal welfare, this term is all about avoiding that pesky word: Salmonella. Pasteurized eggs are eggs that have been heated at a low, consistent temperature just long enough to kill any potentially harmful bacteria without actually cooking the eggs. The CDC suggests opting for pasteurized eggs when cooking with raw eggs (think salad dressing or eggnog), or when cooking for children, the elderly, and groups with weak or compromised immune systems. Any eggs can be pasteurized, whether they came from a pasture-raised farm or inhumane factory farm.

While safer to eat for some, there are a few notable cons to pasteurized eggs. For starters, they’re often considered less flavorful than their unheated counterparts. Pasteurized eggs also fall short when it comes to making meringue: this is why liquid egg whites from a box, which are always pasteurized, won’t stiffen up for your angel food cake. Finding these lower-risk eggs also provides its own challenge as cartons of pasteurized eggs aren’t very common: you can assume most eggs at the grocery store are not pasteurized unless the label says otherwise. If you’re in a pinch or would simply like to lower your risk of foodborne illness, consider going the DIY route with our at-home egg pasteurization guide below.

How to pasteurize eggs at home

For the days you need to make a batch of eggnog for the family, knowing how to pasteurize eggs on the stovetop can be a big help. Easily pasteurize your Consider Pastures Eggs at home with these simple steps.

What you'll need

  • 6 Consider Pastures Eggs
  • Medium pot or saucepan
  • Enough water to fill your pot
  • Instant-read or candy thermometer

Prepare your eggs

This process is all about warming the contents of your eggs to the correct consistent temperature, so starting with cold eggs is a bit of an unnecessary struggle. Bring your eggs to room temperature by transferring from the refrigerator to the counter for about thirty minutes before you begin.

Warm your water

After thirty minutes or once your eggs no longer feel cold to the touch, fill your pot three-quarters full or enough to sit 1” above the eggs. Warm water over medium heat until your thermometer reads 140F (60C).

Add your eggs 

Once the water measures a consistent 140F, use a slotted spoon to carefully lower your eggs into the pot. While monitoring your thermometer to ensure the water remains at temperature (anything higher than 142F will cook your eggs), warm your eggs in the pot for 3.5 minutes. For added efficiency, take the opportunity to prepare a medium bowl of cold or ice water for the next step.

Cool things off

After 3.5 minutes at 140F, remove the pot from the heat and submerge your eggs in cold water to prevent cooking. Once cooled, pat eggs completely dry before storing in the refrigerator. Use the pasteurized eggs with confidence in your next batch of creamy Caesar dressing or garlicky homemade mayonnaise.

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