Eggventures in duck eggs (with mayonnaise recipe!)
Updated: Jan 16
In the immediate aftermath of our wedding and the beginning of Washington State’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, there was a cube of eggs on the kitchen counter – twelve eggs wide, twelve eggs long, and seemingly twelve eggs tall. Our ducks lay about an egg each, every day, and our geese every other day. Our covey of quail, which we’d just coaxed to start laying were managing about two or three a day. All this to say, our small pandemic wedding and cancelled wedding brunch hadn’t quite managed to run through the egg supply.
Which is how I ended up trying the ultimate egg salad and deviled egg showdown—duck v. goose v. quail.
It was a perfect chance to see how each of them compared to the others, and to the usual chicken egg. The results were delicious. The darker orange of the duck eggs gave them a beautiful color. The deviled goose eggs contained a mound of frothy yolk almost as big as the whites, and nearly six times the size of the teeny-tiny delicate quail eggs.
A dedicated half-hour of egg-eating later, and the whole family was stuffed. The eggs our birds make don’t taste like the chicken eggs that are familiar to most grocery-store shoppers; and there are some definite pros to that situation, a whole morning of egg-eating aside. Cooking with unfamiliar eggs has been a delicious, totally worth-it challenge. For those people first exploring new kinds of eggs through our eggventure baskets, I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned as I’ve started cooking different kinds of eggs, starting with duck eggs, the majority of the eggs produced here on Our perfect Farm.
Immediately visually different from chicken’s eggs, duck eggs are bigger than a large-sized chicken egg and the yolk is a warm apricot orange compared to the more sunflower chicken yolk. The flavor matches the intensity; duck eggs have a richer, fuller taste.
Part of that is due to their high protein content. Originally, I’d come around to duck eggs because I do a lot of gluten free baking. Anyone who has experimented with baking gluten-free might know from a brick-textured loaf of ‘bread’ what gluten does for dough. The proteins in gluten make a structure which traps gasses, giving baked goods their light and airy textures. Without that protein, gluten free options tend to be dense, crumbly, and dry.
In my experiments trying to improve my gluten-free baking, I came across duck eggs. They’ve been a life (or pie) saver ever since. The higher protein content can help gluten free baking form better structures to trap gas, resulting in lighter, fluffier baked goods. The baker just has to remember to adjust for their larger size – two large duck eggs is about the same as three large chicken eggs.
Once I had duck eggs in the house and loved them for baking, it seemed a shame not to use them for other things. And, the good news is, if you love chicken eggs – you’re going to really love duck eggs. It’s hard to describe exactly what the difference is, and requires making up a few new words; duck eggs are eggier than chicken eggs. They’ve got more egginess to them. Their flavor is much richer and noticeably more intense. This quickly made them a favorite in our house – fried, boiled, poached, or made into mayonnaise.
Ducks have evolved to live and lay near water. One of the adaptations they’ve developed is eggs with thicker shells and membranes to protect the possible future baby duck inside. This tougher shell and membrane also means they’ll keep longer than chicken eggs. While you might only notice the membrane on a chicken egg after they’re hardboiled (as a trick to easy peeling), duck eggs need to be opened with a thumb-push motion to break the membrane after the shell has been cracked.
They’re also a little more sensitive to rough-handling during frying than chicken eggs; while chicken eggs can be cooked hot and too long and still result in an edible breakfast, over-frying your duck eggs (or starting them with a too hot pan) can result in a rubbery white that isn’t the most delicious addition to your toast. But as long as you treat them right, they’re well worth the reward.
All of your favorite egg recipes can benefit from the richer taste of duck eggs – but to give you somewhere to start, why not try my duck-egg mayonnaise?
Shaun’s perfect Duck Egg Mayonnaise
2 duck eggs, room temperature
A rough Tablespoon of prepared mustard
A rough Tablespoon of vinegar
A pinch of salt
2 cups of neutral flavored oil, adjusted for thickness
You can make mayonnaise in a standard blender or food processor, although I’ve been using an immersion blender (my kitchen godsend!). I crack the eggs in whole, and blend thoroughly (about 10-20 seconds) before adding the mustard, vinegar, and salt.
Various kinds of mustards and vinegars will give you different flavors of mayonnaise – I encourage you to try out different combinations! Everything from the most generic yellow mustard and white vinegar to fancy aged apple cider vinegars and stone-ground Dijon will result in delicious mayos.
After that’s thoroughly incorporated, add the oil in a very slow stream while continuing to blend. Canola oil tends to be my go-to, as it’s very neutral and usually in the house. Olive oil will give you a distinctly olive-oil tasting mayonnaise – which might be something to experiment with, too.
The mixture should start to emulsify as you add oil and blend; don’t be too worried if it doesn’t happen immediately. Keep blending and slowly adding oil. Once it starts to thicken, you could add seasoning (roasted garlic? A little barbecue sauce? Some sriracha?) and continue to blend until you reach the desired consistency of your mayonnaise.
In my experience, it’ll thicken just a little in the refrigerator – and should keep about two weeks (although that’s hypothetical… I’ve never had it go uneaten that long!)