Why does nobody eat duck eggs anymore?

Food & drink
Why does nobody eat duck eggs anymore?

Duck eggs fell out of fashion just after the Second World War when a health scare connected eating duck eggs with outbreaks of salmonella poisoning.

The evidence seemed a little thin, but the connection in the public consciousness took hold, and demand for duck eggs plummeted.  The mass producers ignored ducks in favour of the more easily farmed chicken.

Later, people forgot why they didn’t buy duck eggs, they just didn’t buy them, and the large scale farming methods involved in chicken egg production took control of the whole egg market.  Chicken eggs were cheaper, more convenient and didn’t have that connection to salmonella, at least until Edwina Currie’s infamous anti-egg crusade of the mid-1980s.

Duck eggs are still not widely available, but they’re out there in farm shops, delis, whole food shops, farmer’s markets and the like.  For those willing to hunt some down, the hunt is worth it.

Mine come from the local butcher, who runs his own farm, raising beef steers, pigs and chickens, along with a small flock of ducks.  Some of the ‘posher’ supermarkets also stock them – they cost more, and they probably aren’t as fresh.  The butcher’s are £1.99 for half a dozen oddly sized eggs, more than hen’s eggs, but they’re bigger and fresher.

A duck egg can be used as a direct substitute for a normal hen’s egg.  The yolks are larger and higher in fat than a hen’s egg, which makes them richer and perhaps a little ‘gamey’.  They’re also packed with vitamins and minerals, and provide a powerful protein boost, approximately 15% of the adult recommended daily allowance.

Duck eggs are especially useful in baking, given the higher proportion of yolk to white – you’ll hear plenty of tales about the near supernatural lightness of cakes, etc – but they also make a superb omelette and lift the humble pancake to new heights.

To me, the best thing to do with a duck egg is to fry it gently in butter, and eat it with a couple of rashers of bacon, toast, some good coffee and the Sunday papers.

45 comments… add one

  • busby Feb 16, 2010

    Do what I did with Duck eggs…I bought 6 put them in an incubator and 4 hatched, I now have 2 breeding pairs and 2 fresh duck eggs every day. They are much nicer and absolutely superb to bake with, sponges are always fluffyIncubation was very easy and rewarding.

  • Kavey Apr 4, 2010

    I adore duck eggs.
    During my childhood close family friends had both ducks and geese so we'd often enjoy duck and goose eggs.
    Since then, it's been harder to find them – as you say supermarkets only rarely stock them.
    I do buy them now and again when I pass a farm shop on the way out of London to the North, it's only open on Saturdays and we don't pass it that often. And sometimes, when we do, they've run out as the duck eggs are popular!

  • Alison Apr 4, 2010

    my sister eat often this eggs,only boiled.but i 'm to scare about salmonella…

  • Kathy Gori Apr 4, 2010

    a girl in my class at school always used to eat them..somehow…I don't know….they just were always off limits…thanks for the explanation why

  • Katie Apr 4, 2010

    The only time I have ever eaten duck eggs was at a hotel in Scotland a couple of years ago. I thought they were delicious and really rich. I will have to look out for them.

  • Nate Apr 4, 2010

    Great post. I'm intrigued – I've seen duck eggs in the grocery store, but I've been fairly ambivalent on eggs until recently.

  • Anonymous Apr 4, 2010

    My favorite chocolate chip cookies are so much better when I substitute with duck eggs. They are impossible to purchase in the US; but a family friend has some ducks and the 3 hour drive to their farm is definitely worth it.

  • Cookin' Canuck Apr 4, 2010

    I enjoyed this post and am now going to search for duck eggs!

  • TasteHongKong Apr 4, 2010

    Seldom do i see fresh duck eggs in the market as well, but they are still popular for use in making Cantonese style noodles.

  • Amy C Apr 4, 2010

    I would LOVE to get my hands on duck eggs.

  • No-Frills Recipes Apr 4, 2010

    Good info. Back here, salted eggs are made from duck eggs, so is the century egg. But fresh duck eggs are hard to come by, not so popular as hen eggs.

  • Jessie Apr 4, 2010

    i never had duck eggs, heck I never knew you could eat duck eggs. This is very informative!

  • wasabi prime Apr 4, 2010

    Ooh, I'll have to keep an eye out at farmer's markets or specialty stores. I've never had duck eggs, but I like the idea of baking with them to compare the consistency of favorite recipes.

  • penny aka jeroxie Apr 4, 2010

    It is hard to find fresh duck eggs. Usually they are cooked or salted already. I agree that duck eggs are best eaten simply.

  • Abby Apr 4, 2010

    What a coincidence, I just had preserved duck eggs today!

  • citronetvanille Apr 4, 2010

    Funny I bought duck eggs yesterday and was thinking to make an omelette and post it tomorrow. Great post!

  • Choclette Apr 4, 2010

    Glad you raised this topic – maybe we need a duck egg awareness campaign! I use duck eggs in my baking all the time. I'm lucky enough to have a local organic shop that sells them – properly free range and organic. In fact I wrote a post on my blog about duck eggs a couple of months ago.

  • foodlovee Apr 4, 2010

    Here duck eggs are salted egg which are used very common in cooking.Like salted egg crab,prawns etc.

  • Mae Apr 4, 2010

    These are very rare in the US. The only sure source I know of to get them in the Chicago area is at asian markets. You're able to find them shipped in from surrounding farms there.

    Thanks for a great article on an under used, wonderful alternative to the chicken egg!

  • Fresh Local and Best Apr 4, 2010

    I grew up eating duck eggs and in fact my grandparents used to raise ducks. The ducks used to chase after us when we took their eggs away. It's been so long that I've forgotten how they taste, and this is a good reminder for me to seek them out.

  • Rachel J Apr 4, 2010

    funny I've never had duck eggs nor have I ever thought about them on the same plane as chicken eggs. Thanks for the exposure!

  • Brian Apr 4, 2010

    Hi everyone, Its great to read these comments on duck eggs! We set up a new business last year producing and seling duck eggs! We are the largest in Ireland now with over 2500 ducks! Our company is called Glenfin Free Range Duck Eggs. Visit our website http://www.glenfinfarm.ie and if you are visiting Ireland at some stage, keep an eye out for them! They are delicious. Has anyone ever tried them poached? yummy!…

  • Will Geary May 15, 2010

    Hi everyone,
    I am selling free-range duck eggs. My own ducks produce around 30 large eggs a week, but in total we collect around 140 eggs a week. We currently sell them at the local poultry auction as their isn’t much demand for them privately. However this forum has suggested that there actually is demand. I wanted to find out reasons for people ignoring Duck eggs, so I visited this site and now I know! You guys have really positive views on Duck eggs, so that’s a relief. The excuses about salmonella poisoning has little truth, and we have had no problems with our eggs. I have advertised our eggs on the village’s webpage but have had no sales yet. The article is correct about duck eggs – they are fantastic for baking (much better than those Chicken eggs) mainly because Chicken eggs have a higher water content in the white than a duck’s white. There is more yolk to white than in a Chicken egg, too – making them better for use in Omlettes etc. I am hoping to hatch out more ducklings this year so that I can sell the eggs next year – and if adequate demand is there (and I’m selling most of the eggs produced a week) I will have them all vaccinated for salmonella to put any anxieties to rest.
    The duck eggs are larger than chicken eggs, are free-range, are collected fresh every day, and are washed and packed ready for you to enjoy.
    Duck eggs are £2.40 for a dozen (Our local Waitrose branch sells them for £4.70 for a dozen!).
    If you are interested in purchasing fresh, free-range Duck eggs, or just want to find out more information, please call 01672 540819 (Wiltshire) or e-mail [email protected]
    Thank you.

  • Paul B Jul 21, 2010

    I eat duck eggs all the time. I'd never eat hen's eggs if I were able to have a duck's egg instead. Some of the prices mentioned here are terrible though! I get them from a local farmer for £1 a half dozen!

    • rich Jul 21, 2010

      £1 – £2 for half a dozen seems about right.

  • Kristen Nov 21, 2010

    I'm in the US, and we usually have duck eggs at our weekly farmer's market. I tried a couple fried and noticed that the taste was similar, if slightly more watery, than hens' eggs. Interestingly, they usually don't sell out nearly as quickly as the hens' eggs, and since I'm a late riser, I think I'll end up getting some again!

    I was hesitant to use them to replace hens' eggs in cooking because of the odd sizes — especially in baking. Has anyone used them in baking?

  • Joel Dec 18, 2010

    I love them in omlettes or fried, they are slightly more expensive than hens eggs, but only about the same as free range xl hens eggs which i usually buy. They worth the extra tho. Morrisons an Tesco sell them most of year, they are not seasonal but lay less and harder to get in colder months. Barnsley indoor market the only place iv been able to get them in recent weeks! £1.40 for 6 eggs, slightly less than i normally pay

  • Bruce Apr 4, 2011

    I have a goose egg for breakfast everyday, soft boiled (9 mins) and an army of soldiers, it's great.

    i try to give away excess duck and goose eggs, but no-body knows what to do with them. shame on them!

  • Ste Apr 11, 2011

    I had my first duck eggs today & thought they were vewy noice! I got them from Morrisons :)

  • beverley Apr 13, 2011

    anybody in the buckinghamshire/beds area we sell fresh free range eggs for £2.00 per half dozen everyday of the week, we also sell eggs for incubation, if you want to have your own laying duck, or ducks at laying stage. Email for more details

  • stephen May 2, 2011

    I have kept two breeding pairs of ducks for some years,the eggs are large and fantastic for baking I do egg them as well but the rest of the family won,t?

    • rich May 12, 2011

      …their loss, more for you!

  • pam May 8, 2011

    had aduck egg omelette last night felt quite ill after with upset stomach think you need to cook for longer than a chicken egg one

  • Hay May 20, 2011

    WE EAT THEM DAILY! I completely adore them and have to say I prefer them over chicken eggs every day…you always seem to get so much more yolk to white!

    We buy them locally from a wholefood shop and they are the same price (6 for £1.60) as chicken eggs in the supermarket. they are fab with soldiers before work, yum!

  • b Jul 30, 2011

    hi,

    i had a fried duck egg this morning, it was good!!

    Nice big yolk, just out of curiosity whats the difference between eggs for eating and eggs for incubating?

    i’d love to hatch one or two…

    thanks, and f**k mass produced chickens/eggs!! that taste like water!!

    b

  • lewis daniels Aug 10, 2011

    WATERCRESS LANE DUCK EGGS ARE THE BEST!!!!

  • Marilyn Thorne Oct 31, 2011

    Duck eggs are really fantastic. I had never tried one until a Vet friend of mine offered me some from a grateful farmer he had helped. They are wonderfully nourishing and if I eat one for breakfast, I do not feel hungry for the rest of the day. The flavour is absolutely beautiful and I just cannot understand why the supermarkets do not sell them.

    • Sue Threlfall Nov 12, 2011

      The answer from Tesco, where I got my last (and the only ones)duck eggs, is that they are no longer stocking them because there is not the demand for them! I’m now on the hunt for producers/suppliers in West Norfolk! I’ve found someone at Spalding that I might have to try, if I can’t get someone near King’s Lynn. Anyone know a duck egg producer?

  • George Millar Dec 12, 2011

    We live on a farm. Have had ducks here for many years. Fresh duck eggs every day. Great boiled, scrambled and fried. They are also brilliant for baking. We love our duck eggs, very nutritious and we are all healthy!!!

  • jessie mcmillan Apr 23, 2012

    I’ve been given some duck eggs today by a friend who keeps a duck and some chickens and thanks to all the tips i’ll be frying my duck eggs in butter tonight and will let you know my views when i’ve tried them!

  • jessie mcmillan Jun 16, 2012

    I did indeed try the duck eggs and they were delicious! They definitely had a more distinctive taste but that wasn’t a bad thing. They are obviously bigger so they go further. I also used them to make pancakes and they made a very light smooth mixture.

  • Anne Young Jul 11, 2012

    Bought from a neighbour in Somerset, I’ve just opened a “guaranteed sold to me on the day laid” duck egg and there was a piece of green-lookig fungus the size of an English pence piece along the membrane of the yolk. I’ve taken it back to the producer who has never seen this before, shown it to a couple of other people who also don’t know what it could be. It looks similar to the green penicillin growth you find sometimes on the top of home-made jams, and has no smell. Fortunately, I was able to lift the whole thing out of the batter.
    Any ideas

  • Ellie Green Jan 2, 2013

    l love duck eggs………..they make the best egg custard in the world. So creamy. Tastes like cream added even when just made with milk!! I use them for everything I’d use hens eggs for Worth the extra cost and more!! Suggest if anyone has tummy upset after an omelette made with duck eggs they need carting off to the funny (Hen?) farm! must be in the mind, or from something else and coincidence.

  • Bruce Morris Mar 24, 2013

    I was told not to eat a duck egg from a duck that has been with a drake. Is that true or false?

  • Mick Holdaway Oct 4, 2013

    Thats false. It is a question of do you object to it posibly being fertile or not. most farm produced duck eggs will probably be fertile. It is only the commercialy produced eggs that are not.

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