Comparing duck eggs and chicken eggs

Last week, my friend Tony gave me two dozen duck eggs to try. I’m really glad to have had a chance to try them – I’ve often wondered how comparable the taste is.  The short version? They taste almost exactly the same, though the yolks taste…yolkier, I guess.

I must confess: I was a little leery of them. Especially when I opened the carton and got a strong whiff of duck pond – but that was just because the eggs were not fully washed.  Tony assured me they wouldn’t taste “gamey,” so I tried them a couple different ways: fried over-hard, in pumpkin bread, and in an almond cookie recipe that called for beating the yolks and whites separately.

Over-hard: Like all really fresh eggs, the duck egg yolk “stands up” far out of the whites.  I like to break my yolks and cook them all the way through, and when prepared this way, the egg cooked exactly like a chicken egg.  The yolk didn’t spread out evenly, so one end of the fried egg was almost entirely yolk.  I’m actually not a big fan of egg yolk, and I ended up not eating that last couple bites.  I may or may not have eaten it if it were a chicken egg.  It wasn’t that it tasted bad; it just tasted very much like yolk, and I’m not terribly fond of that flavor. (In my world, hot sauce, goat cheese, and olives were invented to cover the taste of egg yolk.)

Baking: The duck eggs were great in baking, once I figured out how many to use. Several of the eggs were as big as my palm and had double yolks – easily equivalent to two full chicken eggs.  Some were the size of a small chicken egg.  So I fiddled and estimated, and they worked fine, both as whole eggs and as separate yolks and whites. The whites beat up into a nice meringue. (Wait…is that the egg white spelling or the dance? Bah.)

The only other drawback – and it is slight – is that they don’t break neatly.  The shells are less brittle than chicken eggs.  Breaking them is tough; you crack them, and then really have to stick your thumbs in to pierce the membrane.  This invariably detaches bits of shell, which then try to head for the bowl.  The whites are also…ropier? You know on a chicken egg, right at the end, there’s that stringy bloop of egg white that you either have to sever, wait to drop, or throw away? That’s much more pronounced on the duck eggs.  It’s stickier, and when you try to smoosh it out with your finger, it sticks to your finger, and pretty soon you’ve got a cat’s cradle of egg yolk between your fingers, the egg shell, and the bowl.  You can sort of wind it up with the egg shells and pitch it all on the compost, but it seems like a bit of hassle and waste. Only a bit, but still.

The verdict: If I had a choice, I’d pick chicken eggs.  If I didn’t have a choice, I’d take duck eggs and be very happy to have them.

Thanks, Tony! It was a fun experiment!

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4 Comments

  1. Tammy Coxen said,

    December 28, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Duck eggs really shine in things like custards and flans, where those extra-yolky-yolks add richness. Here’s a post on eGullet where someone did some side-by-side comparisons of chicken, duck and guinea hen eggs: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?/topic/108111-duck-chicken-guinea-eggs-in-baking/

  2. laxsupermom said,

    December 29, 2011 at 9:12 am

    I’ve never tried duck eggs before. Great review! Thanks for sharing.

  3. February 19, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    We have ducks, geese, chickens and had guineas. I favor the chicken eggs hands down.


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