Farmers’ markets have long been high on my list of what I love about summer. In recent years, it’s been especially fun to see market offerings expand beyond produce. Even the smallest of farmers’ markets often feature artisan honey, maple syrup, bread, ice cream, chocolate, and the like.
At last year’s St. Paul farmers’ market, I happened upon a sign advertising an entire flat of eggs (30 of them!) for $1. Wow. Considering I pay more than that for a dozen conventional eggs, this seemed a bargain. Looking more closely, I noticed that these eggs were much smaller than the standard large egg. An accompanying sign named them as pullet eggs. Ah ha. I bought two flats and returned as often as they were available for the same purchase. Yes, these eggs were small, but their flavor was fresh and lovely. As well, pullets are reputed to have higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids than eggs laid by full-grown chickens. But their biggest sell was their cute factor–how could I not buy them?
I’ve learned since that pullets are eggs laid by hens under 1-year of age. Thekitchn website describes these eggs as coming “from chickens who are just getting the hang of laying eggs. They are noticeably smaller than regular eggs and can even occasionally be quite tiny as the hens work out their learning curve.”
My mom gets a kick out of my searching pullet eggs out and notes that when she was growing up, pullet eggs were second-rate because of their size. If you had enough money, you’d always go for the larger eggs. And here I am seeking them out as “specialty” foods.
Callister Farms, where I found last year’s egg bargain, had run out of pullet layers by the time I made it to the market this year. Another vendor, Gilbertson Farms, offered them for $4 a dozen and though this was steeper than I’d paid, I jumped at the chance to bring them home. The vendor said she had only had two dozen pullet eggs to bring to the market that day and my purchase, made an hour before the market’s close, finally cleaned her out. “I’d like to sell more,” she lamented, “but people just don’t know what they are.” I see this changing as these tiny eggs are gems.