When I first came across quail eggs at my local Farmers’ Market, my eyes took a double take. And thinking that I was discreet with my thoughts, I quickly asked myself “What kind of bird could lay those tiny eggs?”
My farmer noticed my perplexed stare, and with a smile he responded to my silent question, “These are quail eggs.” We both laughed, and it was a relief that he helped me out of my silent, still analysis.
Once my tension was dissolved, my brain was free to think up questions, like “What do quail eggs taste like? They are so tiny! Isn’t it difficult to break the shells? And most importantly, how is cooking with quail eggs possible?
Again my farmer looked at me with a reassuring smile, and gave me some great tips to get started. Plus he told me some amazing information about the quail that got me interested in cooking with quail eggs.
Learning about the Quail & Her Eggs
My farmer and I first chatted about the quail bird. He explained that he cares for the quails by providing a safe environment free from predators and common ailments unique to these birds.
He keeps an old-world breed, Japanese Quail, that are known for their flavorful meat and eggs. Plus this specific quail breed is renowned for their calm, easy going composure.
The Japanese Quail weighs 12-14 ounces when fully grown, and lays 1 egg per day. If an egg is fertilized it can hatch in only 16-17 days. And the quail chicks will become egg-laying adults in as little as 6-8 weeks!
Egg laying is most prevalent in the spring and summer months, yet decreases over the winter due to natural light sensitivity instincts. To combat cooler weather, quail will molt, or shed feathers before winter so new hardier feathers can develop.
Handling & Storage for Quail Eggs
To further learn about quail eggs, my farmer explained that he and his wife collect the eggs daily. And then cleans the eggs with warm water.
Once clean, the quail eggs are transferred into tiny cartons and kept in the refrigerator. Quail eggs are fresh for about 21 days, or 3 weeks.
Okay, I think I have the basics down about the quail birds and eggs, but I then blurted “How do I go about cooking with quail eggs?”
Again with a reassuring smile he reached for a scissor-like tool, and told me that the first step to cooking with quail eggs is knowing the best way to break the shell.
The scissor-like tool allows one to penetrate the shell, and the thicker-than-a-chicken-egg membrane of the quail egg. This tool keeps the yolk intact. Plus it makes breaking into quail eggs less messy.
5 Tips for Cooking with Quail Eggs
After figuring out the basics, I thought it was time for cooking with quail eggs! And gosh it’s been fun playing, or cooking with these tiny eggs! Below are my top 5 tips to enjoy cooking with quail eggs.
Quail eggs look different than chicken eggs, but they taste similar to a chicken egg. The adventure may not be in the taste, but these tiny eggs don’t disappoint when it comes to thrill!
Cooking with quail eggs can be quite adventurous! Quail eggs can be used in the same recipes as a traditional chicken egg, but because of their unique appearance, these eggs can get you excited about the swap and recipes to try.
2. New skills!
Even though the scissor-like tool shown above makes cooking with quail eggs a little easier, you will still have to practice. And this practice will lead to new cooking skills!
The smaller shape of the egg and thicker membrane will have your hands and brain learning how to crack it open without breaking the yolk. Keeping the yolk intact with any egg is a fundamental cooking skill that everyone needs to know!
3. Adjust cooking times
Because quail eggs are smaller, there’s less time needed when cooking with quail eggs. For instance, my farmer and his wife hard-boil quail eggs in an instant pot for only 1 minute!
I have found the cooking temperatures are kept the same as a chicken egg, but cooking with quail eggs takes a lot less time! And who doesn’t love a quicker cook time without sacrificing flavor?!?
4. Fun shapes make eating fun!
As mentioned before, when cooking with quail eggs, you could swap these eggs for any traditional chicken egg recipe. However, why use these tiny little eggs for egg salad or chicken salad? I say showcase the quail egg size and shape for fun eating!
For example, I enjoy quail eggs hard boiled as the following : cute salad toppers, deviled eggs, muffin cup eggs, and bite-sized appetizers. I also like to use fried quail eggs to create funny faces on breakfast foods, like toast or pancakes.
5. Bring others into the fun!
Food is a love language, and when you’re cooking with quail eggs, there’s also a lot of fun too! For instance, I choose to make quail eggs hard baked for a breakfast social gathering with my Bible Study Small Group.
Upon first appearance, a friend asked, “How did you get your eggs so small?” My smile beamed, while another friend said, “What in the world are those little eggs?”
This time my smile broke into a laugh, and I finally revealed that my tiny eggs were in fact quail eggs. I went on to request that they were to test my latest adventure in cooking with quail eggs.
My friends seemed so excited to be brought into my kitchen quests for recipe testing. And for inviting them to sample my adventures in cooking with quail eggs.
I felt honored for their eagerness. And as the buffet line for breakfast moved through, those tiny hard baked quail eggs disappeared!
After breakfast, several friends informed me that the recipe was keepers. I also had people ask where I purchased the eggs and how I like cooking with quail eggs.
Of course I gave tips, the recipe, the name of my farmer, and a boost of encouragement to get cooking with quail eggs. Quail eggs are tiny, but don’t be fooled! They are full of nutrition, flavor, and fun!
A Huge Thanks to my Local Farmers
I would like to thank all my local farmers for growing delicious food, and for helping me to be a better eater.
And I would especially like to thank Bruce and Peggy Underhill for introducing me to quail eggs. Bruce and Peggy have provided a load of useful information about the quail, their eggs, and cooking with quail eggs.
Want to Join a Learning Community for Locally Grown Food?
If you enjoy cooking or are just looking for the motivation to cook, join my free Facebook Group : Anti Inflammatory Healthy Eating Community
The Facebook Group has real food, real simple recipes that are made with locally grown food from my local Farmers’ Market. Plus there are healthy habit challenges that give you the tools you need to gain traction in your goals.
About the Author
Elizabeth Ray is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who is on a mission to help you feel good about food! She believes food from the farm is best. And she is developing nutrition resources to help you discover the possibilities of real food that is grown/raised by the local farmer.
For more delicious, nutritious and adventurous recipes that are sourced from the farm, click here.
“May food from the local farm help you flourish!” – Elizabeth Ray Farmers Market Nutritionist