April Newsletter: Our Easter Traditions, Mexican Easter Recipe, Farm Eggs, The Birds & Bees!

Alma’s Easter Family Traditions:

Capirotada: Mexican Easter Bread Pudding. My most favorite Easter tradition was my grandmother’s Capirotada. The smell of cinnamon, clove, and sweet honey would fill our house Easter morning and was the most wonderful way to wake up!This bread pudding combines humble ingredients with holy symbolism makes a special beloved dessert during Easter. The bread, symbolizing the body of Christ; the dark syrup, echoing Christ's blood; the cinnamon sticks, symbolizing the wood of the cross; the cloves, representing the nails used in the Crucifixion, for us the HONEY is the sweetness of everlasting life with Christ and the cheese that cloaks the dish, suggesting the holy shroud. Some families add nuts, raisins and fruit. Check out our recipe:

* 2 cups dark brown sugar (or 16 ounces of piloncillo)

* 2 cups water

* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

* 1 24-inch loaf of French bread, cubed and toasted (about six cups)

* 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

* 1 cup Mexican crumble cheese

* 1 cup toasted and chopped pecans

* 1/2 cup raisins

* 1/3 cup of raw Honey (we use our Sarasota Raw Gold for its mild taste)

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.

2. Make a syrup by boiling the sugar, water, cinnamon, and cloves together for 10 minutes or until it’s slightly thickened and reduced.

3. In a greased large cast-iron skillet or an 8-inch square pan, place half the bread and pour over it half the melted butter. Toss to coat. Drizzle about ¼ cup of the syrup over the bread and toss to coat. Layer on top of the bread the cheese, pecans, raisins. the rest of the bread on top, drizzle over the honey, remaining butter and then pour over the rest of the syrup. Make sure that each piece of bread is properly coated in syrup.

4. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 15 more minutes. Serve warm.


Our Family Traditions:

Mexican Confetti Eggs

When I was a kid growing up Easter time was special. Not only did it represent the resurrection of our lord and savior Jesus Christ but it meant family time. On the Saturday before Easter, my grandmother would get my sisters and I together for the traditional coloring of the eggs, which back then was only a few colors.


Being Hispanic, my mother and grandmother always made sure we inherited some Mexican traditions as well, like making cascarones. Cascarones are eggs filled with confetti. Of course, you remove the egg from the shell and replace it with the confetti. Being raised Catholic we would eat a lot of eggs during lent…saving the eggshells for Easter fun! Nothing goes to waste as you can use the egg that's been removed for other desserts and treats. Moreover, those hard-boiled eggs don't spoil simply because you never got around to eating them.


The best part of the cascarones is finding an unsuspecting friend and cracking the confetti-filled eggs on their head, especially if they don't know what's in them or don't know about the tradition. It was always big fun chasing my siblings and cousins around the back yard cracking eggs on each others heads. Sneaking up on the aunties and mommas while they were getting caught up on the latest gossip was also fun! Some people believe that if you make a wish and gently bump the egg before you break it over someone's head, that wish will come true. Tradition has it though, that cascarones are supposed to bring good luck to the person the egg hits. The best part of the cascarones is its religious meaning "because they are made from eggs, they symbolize rebirth and Jesus' resurrection."

Let’s talk Eggs: Washed vs Unwashed.

In honor of Easter we thought it would be a good time to write about eggs, washed vs unwashed. If you've ever taken home farm-fresh eggs, or visited a grocery store outside of the country, you may have been surprised to learn that eggs don't necessarily need to be refrigerated. In fact, the United States is one of the few countries that promotes the washing and refrigeration of eggs.

A lot of customers ask us questions about our pastured eggs, so here, we answer a few common ones here.

The difference between washed vs unwashed eggs

Before a hen lays an egg, her body creates a protective layer called the "bloom" over the shell. The bloom protects the egg from any bacteria getting inside by sealing the 6,000-8,000 shell pores.

Back in the early 1900’s people did not have good hygienic practices. They would collect eggs some of which may have been exposed to chicken poop and eat them. Well, people started getting sick. So to remedy this, the US required that all eggs be washed before being sold for “human consumption.” By washing the eggs it was protecting the end consumer no matter what their hygienic practices were.

Now days, large commercial egg producers spray their eggs with a chemical sanitizer before they package them, to reduce the risk of bacteria like salmonella contaminating the egg. When eggs are washed, the "bloom" is removed, leaving the egg pores open to potential new bacteria. Without that protective layer, it's recommended that you refrigerate washed eggs at a temperature around 45 degrees to prevent any bacteria growth.

If eggs are left unwashed with the bloom intact, you can place them on your kitchen counter. Unwashed, room temperature eggs should keep for several weeks. If you aren't planning to use your eggs for a while, we recommend refrigerating them. The cooler temperatures increase the shelf life, with eggs keeping for up to three months in the refrigerator.

Let’s take a look at what Backyard Poultry has to say:

The biggest health risk associated with eggs is being exposed to Salmonella bacteria. Most types of Salmonella grow in the intestinal tracts of animals and are passed through their feces. Most humans become infected with Salmonella after eating foods that are directly or indirectly contaminated with animal feces. With chicken eggs, the eggshell is exposed to Salmonella usually after the egg has been laid as a result of poor animal management practices (i.e. the bird is living in a feces infested condition) and not necessarily from backyard chickens.


Hopefully, if you have chickens and you properly care for your chickens you should A) have healthy chickens free of disease and B) keep your coop clean which will result in very few dirty eggs. Which pretty much eliminates the salmonella issue!


Fun Fact: We would also like to point out that in pretty much any other country besides the United States even their commercial eggs remain unwashed. In fact, in some cases like in France, it’s illegal to wash commercial eggs. Ironic, right?