Since You Asked: Egg prices boil down to inventory

Occasionally, I notice extra-large — even jumbo — eggs priced lower at the grocery store than large. Why would grocers charge less for more? If I do purchase the larger eggs, can they be used in the same quantities as regular eggs in recipes?

— Erica M., via email

It's counterintuitive, but supermarkets do, indeed, sometimes sell extra-large and even jumbo eggs for less than large ones.

According to a recent report in Newsday, the reason largely rests on inventory. If producers have more of one size than others, they'll drop the price on the size they need to move. And if retailers put a certain size on sale one week, they may not move the other sizes and then need to put them on sale the next week. Sometimes pricing boils down to plain, old competition among grocery chains.

Large eggs, however, are the industry standard and the size used to test most recipes. When it comes to making fried or scrambled eggs, size doesn't matter, though it does take longer to hard-cook a jumbo egg than a large one. Cooks using eggs to provide moisture in a savory recipe, such as meatloaf, can use a tad less milk or water to accommodate more egg.

Baking recipes are a different story because in that realm, eggs provide not only moisture but structure. If a recipe calls for one or two large eggs, the American Egg Board says to use the same number of extra-large or jumbos. But:

  • If recipe calls for three large eggs, use three extra-large or two jumbo.
  • If recipe calls for four large eggs, use four extra-large or three jumbo.
  • If recipe calls for five large eggs, use four extra-large or four jumbo.
  • If recipe calls for six large eggs, use five extra-large or five jumbo.

Send questions to "Since You Asked, A la carte" Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com.


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