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Good Weather for Ducks

A pastel bouquet of Rainshadow duck eggs

 

Local duck eggs are a seasonal delight

We’ve passed the Vernal Equinox, and spring is definitely in the works–daffodils are blooming, leaves are unfolding, and–inevitably–rain is falling.  Birds, responding to longer hours of daylight, are laying eggs–and this includes domestic fowl like chickens and ducks.

Chicken eggs, of course, are the standard for many of us in Western culture–but they’re not the only eggs in town.  Duck eggs are catching on, particularly on the Pacific side of the country–you know how we love Ducks in Eugene!–and they’re more readily available in the spring.  If you’re duck-curious, now is the time to experiment.

Duck eggs are, in general, not extremely different in flavor and use from chicken eggs–both can be eaten fried, boiled, scrambled, or used in baking or salads.  The flavor is similar, though duck eggs are stronger and richer.  People who have had a bad experience with duck eggs with an unappetizing taste may have had a stale egg, or an egg from ducks whose feed imparted an off-flavor.

The Kiva carries duck eggs from Rainshadow El Rancho and Egg It On, which are both farms where the poultry are not only free-range, but pastured in a natural setting.  Due in part to the fact that ducks have not been as intensively bred for egg-laying as chickens, they don’t produce eggs as consistently–seasonal temperature and light variations mean their eggs are much more plentiful in the spring, and tend to get scarcer as the weather warms up.

Gram for gram, duck eggs are significantly lower in water and higher in protein than chicken eggs, so they’re more easily overcooked, which can make them tough–and because they are larger and have a thicker texture than hen’s eggs, they take a little longer to cook, so some experimenting may be in order.  (Remember that the rules for safe handling of eggs applies–cooking eggs all the way through is the rule of thumb.)

The timing doesn’t have to be so fussy when using duck eggs in baking, and their thicker consistency, higher protein and fat content are all characteristics that make them great for baking.  (Duck eggs are about 30%–nearly one third–larger than chicken eggs, so factor that in when substituting.  One blogger recommends substituting duck eggs for chicken eggs one to one anyway, on the grounds that a little more egg will usually just make a recipe better).  Duck eggs have a thicker shell and membrane, so they’re a little harder to crack neatly, and their thicker nature makes them a little more work to beat, but the loft they add to baked goods is worth the minor added effort.  Try them in omelets, frittatas, cakes–anywhere you want the fluff and body of eggs.

Recipes specifically for duck eggs aren’t hard to find–here’s one page I found with some great tips for cooking duck eggs in general, and their use in gluten-free cooking specifically.

But to keep it exclusive, here’s a recipe from our winebuyer’s family that she preferentially makes with duck eggs:

Mom’s Best-Ever Waffles

2 cups sifted cake flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks, well-beaten
1 cup milk
4 Tablespoon melted butter
3 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Sift flour once, measure, add baking powder and salt and sift again.  Combine egg yolks & milk; add to flour, beating until smooth.  Add butter in a thin stream (it shouldn’t be so hot that it cooks the batter on contact!).  Fold in the beaten egg whites.  Bake in hot waffle iron or on hot, greased griddle.  Serve with maple syrup and/or fruit and/or jam.


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