Duck eggs

duck eggs in a nestDuck eggs have become popular in the past few years and are now readily available to consumers. And while duck eggs are a natural, nutritious food, they do need to be handled and cooked with greater care than quality assured hens’ eggs.

Duck eggs available today are 'free range' or organic and are produced by both small holdings and large producers. However, as a current outbreak of Salmonella food poisoning is associated with eating duck eggs, some sensible precautions are needed in their handling and preparation. Salmonella causes food poisoning with diarrhoea and vomiting. However, more severe cases can go on to develop blood poisoning or meningitis. Whether you buy duck eggs in a supermarket or get them from someone you know, it’s important to remember the following advice on handling, storing and preparing duck eggs safely.

Handling and storing duck eggs

When handling duck eggs, always make sure that hands, surfaces and utensils that come into contact with raw duck eggs or shells are washed thoroughly in warm, soapy water, to prevent any Salmonella present from spreading to other foods. Duck eggs should also be stored in a container or box in the fridge away from ready-to-eat foods.

Cooking with duck eggs

A duck egg is heavier and larger than a hen’s egg and therefore needs more cooking time. Duck eggs are also more suitable for certain recipes than other egg types because they have a richer taste and a higher fat content in the yolk. And while duck eggs can work well in baked products where they are thoroughly cooked, they may have a 'rubbery' texture when hard boiled, scrambled or thoroughly fried. But because duck eggs must be fully cooked so that both the yolk and white are solid (to avoid possible Salmonella infection), it is essential only to use them in dishes that can be thoroughly cooked. And while the temptation is great, don’t taste (or let your children taste) raw baking mixes or lick spoons!

You should not assume that lightly poached or lightly cooked duck eggs are safe to eat. Duck eggs are also not suitable as ingredients for lightly cooked recipes like tiramisu, icing, homemade mayonnaise or hollandaise sauce. What also sets duck eggs apart is that their shells are harder than those of hen’s eggs. Any dirt, 'tint' or staining on the shell could well get into the cooking with the egg, so it’s essential that the finished dish is fully cooked through. And it's just as important to remember that your hands should be thoroughly washed with warm water and soap and dried completely before you touch any other food or utensils.