Good Ole Chicken Egg

I can remember eating chicken eggs since I was a young lad, but up until recently I never gave them a second thought. After helping take care of chickens and now wanting chickens of my own I seem to have developed an intrigue and a desire to know more about the EGG.

After traveling deep into the Himalayan mountains to find the secrets of the allusive chicken egg, I realized I could just google it and save myself a lot of time.

Putting it simply there are EIGHT main parts to the chicken egg.  The inner and outer membrane, shell, yolk, vitelline membrane, air cell, chalazae, and the albumen.

The inner and outer membrane lies between the eggshell and the egg white, these two transparent protein membranes provide defense from a myriad of bacterial invaders. They’re made partly of keratin, which is one of a family of fibrous structural proteins. It is the key structural material making up hair, horns, claws, hooves, and the outer layer of human skin. 

Next is the shell, ya know the part that’s really hard to get off after you hardboil an egg. Most shells have a bumpy and grainy texture. There can be as many as 17,000 pores!!! The shell it self is a semipermeable membrane, which allows air and moisture to pass through. A thin outermost layer called the bloom or cuticle functions as another barrier to protect the precious golden cargo from bacteria and particulates.

The yolk, that the tiny golden sun, contains water, protein, some fat, and most of the vitamins and minerals of the egg. It is also a source of lecithin, an effective emulsifier. Yolk color ranges from just a smidge of yellow to a splendid deep orange, according to the feed and breed of the hen of course.

Gently embracing the yolk in a blanket of love and warmth is the vitelline membrane. This is simply a clear casing that encloses the yolk.

If you were to stand an egg upright, the pointy end up, at the bottom is where the air cell would be located. The space forms when the egg is cooled. It usually is between the outer and inner membrane, and this is the reason why you will at times find a crater on the “bottom” of a hard boiled egg. As the egg ages the air cell will grow larger.

The chalazae are located on opposing sides of the yolk and act as an anchoring system to keep the yolk centered within the egg.  The fresher the egg is, the more prominent the chalazae.

The word albumen is derived from the Latin word albus, which means white. In general the albumen is primarily composed of water and contains about 40 different types of proteins. There are two layers of the albumen; the exterior and the interior. The exterior albumen is a narrow fluid layer that is located next to the shell membrane and is usually very thin. The interior albumen is thicker and is found next to the egg yolk.

Its funny how a random tangential thought can take you down a path that may at first seem quite short and uninterested, but once you start down it you see how deep and interconnected it is. We barley scratched the surface of all that emcompasses the chicken egg let alone all the other eggs out there!!



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