Burning question: A primer on egg sizes

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

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Erica Marcus Erica Marcus (face disguised) is Newsday's food writer.

Marcus has covered food for Newsday since 1998. ...

Why are extra-large eggs sometimes cheaper than large ones? And if I buy them, can I use them interchangeably with large? --Anonymous, Central Islip

It's counterintuitive, but supermarkets do, indeed, sometimes sell extra-large and even jumbo eggs for less than large ones. According to Terry Byrne, dairy buyer for Fairway Markets, the reason has to do with inventory. "If a producer has more extra-larges than large," he said, "he'll drop the price to move the extra-large." A similar equation is at work on the market shelves: "If a retailer puts large eggs on sale one week, he may not move any extra large and he'll put them on sale the next week."

Franco Lo Faro, a partner at the new specialty market Dix Hills Farms, said that when the big chains put extra-large eggs on sale, the smaller guys (like him) follow. "They'll use a good price on extra-large eggs to draw customers in," he said, "and I'll have to lower my price to compete. My extra-large eggs cost me more than my large ones, but right now I've got the extra-large on sale for $1.59 a dozen; the large are $2.39, the jumbos $2.89."

So say the thrifty shopper brings home a dozen extra-large or jumbo eggs. Can they be used in recipes calling for large eggs? Bear in mind that large eggs are the industry standard and that most recipes are tested with large eggs. If you're just making fried or scrambled eggs, the size doesn't matter, though it will take longer to hard-cook a jumbo egg than a large one. If you're using eggs to provide moisture in a savory recipe, such as a meatloaf, you might use a tad less milk or water to accommodate more egg.

Baking recipes are a different story, because there, 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 3 large eggs, use 3 extra-large or 2 jumbo

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If recipe calls for 4 large eggs, use 4 extra-large or 3 jumbo

If recipe calls for 5 large eggs, use 4 extra-large or 4 jumbo

If recipe calls for 6 large eggs, use 5 extra-large or 5 jumbo.

What's your favorite turkey sandwich?

I'm looking forward to enjoying some thinly sliced dark meat and a healthy spoonful of cranberry sauce on seeded rye. I'll add a smear of mustard to cut the sweetness of the cranberry sauce. If I am forced to eat white meat, I'll add a smear of mayonnaise. If I happen to have a ripe avocado around, there's nothing better than turkey, avocado and bacon.

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