Duck Eggs 411
Find out about the benefits of duck eggs and what makes them different from chicken eggs.
Backyard ducks, besides being incredibly cute and a natural form of slug and grub control for your yard, also lay some pretty tasty eggs. Depending on the breed and age of the duck, you can expect approximately 150-220 eggs per year as a general rule. Khaki Campbells, Welsh Harlequins, and Pekins are among some of the most consistent as far as egg production goes, but all of our ducks regardless of breed lay quite well through the winter, even without any added light to lengthen the days.
Delicious eggs are certainly one of the many benefits of keeping backyard ducks. Duck eggs are roughly 30% larger than a medium chicken egg, weighing in at 3 to 3-½ ounces, so two duck eggs equals three chicken eggs if you are substituting them in a recipe, however I use them in a one-to-one ratio, even in baking, and am always happy with the results.
Although duck eggs can be prepared just like chicken eggs—scrambled, fried, poached, hard-boiled or sunny side up—overcooking can make them rubbery, so care should be taken to only just cook them through. Duck eggs contain less water and more fat than a chicken egg and have firmer whites, making them superior for baking and sought after by pastry chefs. Cakes and breads will rise better; cookies will be more moist and chewy. Omelets and quiches will be fluffier and custards creamier. Duck egg whites don’t whip up as well as chicken egg whites, but letting them come to room temperature and adding a bit of lemon juice helps.
Duck eggs contain more vitamins A, B12 and D, as well as higher levels of Omega-3 than eggs from chickens similarly fed and pastured. Overall, they are more nutritious than chicken eggs. Duck egg yolks do contain more cholesterol than chicken yolks, but are still an extremely nutritious, low-carb, high-protein food that contains every nutrient needed for life except Vitamin C. And many people who are allergic to chicken eggs find they can eat duck eggs without a problem and vice versa.
As for taste, I find duck eggs to be richer and creamier, as well as a bit "eggier." They sometimes do have a somewhat stronger taste than chicken eggs, which allows them to stand up well to strong cheeses, such as Roquefort or sharp cheddar, and pair well with various aromatic herbs and spices.
Due to their thicker shells and membranes, duck eggs stay fresher longer than chicken eggs. Eggs shouldn’t be washed as a general rule before being refrigerated, but soiled eggs can be rinsed under warm water (at least twenty degrees warmer than the eggshell surface) using a fingernail, stiff brush, rough sponge or old toothbrush to remove any mud or other debris, then refrigerated where they should last for at least six weeks.
Duck eggs are generally white, but some breeds lay pale green/blue eggs. Different ducks within the same breed can lay white or green eggs, which is different than chicken breeds, since all hens within the same breed lay the same color egg (except for Easter Eggers which lay green, bluish, pinkish, cream or tan eggs, depending on the hen). Some ducks, especially Runners, Mallards, Magpies and Anconas often lay pale green eggs, while others of the same breed lay white eggs, even if they both hatched from a green egg. The Cayuga duck breed lays a charcoal gray egg. Duck eggs are highly prized by crafters also, especially those who do pysanky (Ukranian egg decorating) since the eggs are large and the shells durable and smooth.
If keeping ducks isn't an option for you, some good sources for duck eggs include local farms, farmers markets, health food stores or specialty grocery stores, especially Asian markets.