This spring is a time of celebration for so many reasons: the cold, harsh winter is finally behind us, each day is now longer and warmer than the last and, perhaps most importantly, farmers’ market season is once again upon us.
While local farmers are operating at a frenzied pace in the spring, working around the clock to stay on top the torrent of planting, weeding and greenhouse work that accompanies the beginning of every new season, the farmers’ market in the spring is a somewhat quieter time. Customers are slowly reconnecting to the market after a long winter, or perhaps discovering it for the very first time, with attendance coming to a crescendo in the summer months when harvests are at their most bountiful.
Yet, the fresh, local food that can be purchased in May at the Evanston Farmers’ Market is some of the best of any season. Yes, there is the asparagus, rhubarb and tender spinach – all of which will be gone at the blink of an eye and replaced by the summer surge of zucchinis, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants – but there is another “crop” that is at its very best this time of year – fresh, local, spring eggs.
April showers bring not only May flowers, but also lush fields of green grass and lots of worms, all of which our egg-producing lady friends on the farm – not just chickens, but also ducks and geese – forage for when raised on pasture, like on Barb Engelsen’s farm in upstate Caledonia, IL. And, since her girls are omnivores, like us humans, Barb supplements their diet with a high-quality all-organic feed that she buys locally. And you can see and taste the difference.
Barb’s duck eggs come from all different breeds. Her blue duck eggs come from Flying Mallards and she raises other breeds such as Saxony, Welsh Harliquin, Sweden blue, Appleyard, Rouen, and others. She also raises geese for goose eggs. The difference between these type of eggs and chicken eggs? The duck and goose eggs are richer and have a higher yolk to egg white ratio and higher nutritional value, making them ideal for baking, quiches and frittatas, and even ice cream. Other cultures have long ago discovered the virtues of these more “exotic” eggs and now, thanks to Barb and other local farmers, we can enjoy them too. I promise you won’t find eggs like this in the grocery store.
Once you acquire your duck eggs, click here to try this recipe for a remarkable Duck Egg Frittata.
by Rebecca and Brian Weiland