Duck eggs are a great alternative to chicken eggs, and are highly nutritious and beneficial in their own right. As very few people have tried duck eggs, or know little about them I thought I’d write this blog post to provide some background to this wonderful ingredient!
Duck eggs taste slightly different to chicken eggs, and the flavour will depend on the diet of the laying duck. Generally speaking, duck eggs have a stronger, richer flavour. I usually describe them as being an “eggy egg” but I’m not sure whether people understand what I mean by it!
Should a duck’s diet consist of fish and amphibians (like they would often eat in the wild) then the duck egg can taste fishy, which many people consider far less appetising. Our ducks eat some insects and critters that they find in the garden, but they also feed off kitchen scraps (predominantly fresh juicy vegetables and fruits) as well as some grains and pellets. If you find duck eggs for sale at a market, the ducks that produced those eggs are likely to have been fed off pellets/grains and possibly some vegetable scraps.
Cooking Duck Eggs
Jamie Oliver has said that duck eggs make “baked goods fluffier, moister and richer”. Duck eggs are traditionally preferred over chicken eggs when making baked goods.
Masterchef Australia featured an episode this year with duck eggs, and the recipe used in the episode can be found here. Duck eggs have also featured on New Zealand’s Masterchef, and that recipe can be found here too.
Historically, the strongest demographic purchasing duck eggs has been asian communities – with duck eggs used in a range of recipes including Salty Chinese Duck Eggs and Hot Vit Lon. Demand for duck eggs has grown considerably in the USA in the last three years with duck eggs becoming more mainstream. The difficulty has been servicing this new demand. And with more people being introduced to duck eggs, there are new cool recipes being created more and more often.
As I am gluten free, I have often found the recipes that I bake have tended to be dry and flat, which is always a little disappointing when looking at other people who get to eat nice and fluffy cakes. I have found that replacing chicken eggs with duck eggs when cooking gluten free recipes has resulted in a much better cake. These gluten free cakes made with duck eggs rise more, are fluffier and much moister. I’ve cooked a variety of chocolate cakes (they’re just so simple, and go really well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!) and the duck eggs have made them taste better.
While duck eggs can almost always replace chicken eggs, it is my experience that they are best used in baking. If you aren’t interested in baking, duck eggs can also be great in frittatas and quiches as well. My gluten free duck egg quiche is one of my most complimented dishes and is well worth trying.
Duck eggs have different nutritional properties to chicken eggs, so I’ve included a table below demonstrating the nutritional properties of duck eggs and chicken eggs. Note that the table is per 100 grams, but duck eggs are usually larger in size than chicken eggs.
Overall duck eggs tend to have greater protein, minerals and fats. There is more cholesterol contained in a duck egg, so like everything in life, try not to overdo the eggs. It’s important to have a bit of variety in your diet after all.
Some passionate health advocates claim that duck eggs are alkaline, which some people believe can be better for their digestion and also improve recovery from chemotherapy. This hasn’t been confirmed in any study, but has been mentioned in a number of articles online (including this one in Modern Farmer).
In addition, some people have reported being able to eat duck eggs – but being allergic to chicken eggs. If you are allergic to chicken eggs, it’s worth discussing whether it would be appropriate to try duck eggs with your doctor.
A more comprehensive file demonstrating the nutritional benefits of duck eggs and chicken eggs can be found here.
From all other online sources that I have come across, duck eggs have contained more vitamin D per 100 grams than chicken eggs. I’m not sure why this study suggests that is not the case. Vitamin D is fat soluble, and is found in the yolk of an egg. A duck egg contains comparably more egg yolk than white (than a chicken egg), so it would stand to reason that there would be more Vitamin D in a duck egg than a chicken egg. I have contacted the URSUSDA, and will provide an update when I receive a response.
A standard duck egg will be larger than a chicken egg and weigh more. The shell itself will be white, and significantly more difficult to break. It’s kind of like a standard bird egg that you might find in a nest up a tree – only much larger. This is great for those who may be a little clumsy. Some have suggested that the tougher shell allows for a longer shelf life than chicken eggs. Of course you want to eat your eggs as fresh as possible, but at least this benefit can give you some flexibility for their use.
When the ducks have all of their nutritional needs (particularly sufficient calcium) then the shells will be strong and can handle a lot more than chicken eggs. The stronger shells can lead to a longer shelf life.
The yolk of the egg can change colour depending on their diet. If they are fed only pellets or feed from suppliers, they can often have a paler yolk. When ducks have access to fresh greens and a wider range of food, their yolks will become darker and more orange.
As with all eggs, the breed of the laying bird will determine the shape, size and colour of the egg itself. While Khaki Campbells will generally lay a white, large egg consistently, other breeds like Indian Runners may lay coloured (blue or green) eggs of varying sizes.
Have you ever tried duck egg before? If so, what did you think?
You can get buy free range duck eggs from Heritage Farm here.