Many families, like my cousins in Cunningsburgh, keep a half a dozen hens to provide eggs for their own use. The 3 lasses love to look after them and each has their own hen – they all have names and are a bit like family pets – they are ‘clapped’ and made a fuss of. They can even identify which hen has laid which egg: Elsa, the white hen for example, lays long pointy eggs I am told.
When the family goes away and the hens’ routine is interrupted they very definitely sulk and instead of getting about 5 eggs in a day, caretaker Granny only gets one!
Eggs are a relatively economical source of nutrients: protein in particular but also a wide range of vitamins and minerals essential for health. For full information go to www.egginfo.co.uk.
Eggs are easy to digest, good for bairns and older folk with more delicate digestive systems and versatile because of the many ways that they can be cooked and used.
Shetland home produced eggs are widely available throughout Shetland. There are several larger producers whose hens lay all year round : John’s eggs come from Whalsay and are sold in Blydoit’s fish shops and the Giffords from Bressay sell their eggs in Scoop Wholefoods as well as shops from Yell to Sumburgh. They each keep over 250 hens – free range and able to go between the hen-hoose and the outside pen and all checked by the Environmental Health department.
Many of the country shops also sell their own locally produced eggs when folk have a surplus.
Duck eggs are available especially in the summer and are really good scrambled or used in classic sponge cakes where because of their larger size it is best to weigh the eggs and then use equivalent weights of sugar, flour and butter.
The eggs laid by native Shetland Hens have shells with a wide range of lovely colours. The best thing of all though, is the fantastic bright deep yellow of the yolks which really makes lemon curd or mayonnaise look so spectacular.
For details about making mayonnaise – look at : www.shetland.org/60n/blogs/posts/lovely-fresh-shetland-eggs
The following are some of my very favourite popular egg recipes and I hope you will try them all.