Eggs from your very own chickens beat anything you can buy in the supermarkets and collecting them is a great job for the kids, too

Fresh, tasty eggs every day is one of the delightful benefits of keeping hens in your garden. The humble egg is one of our most versatile foods and can form an important part of a healthy, balanced diet.

Eggs are a good source of protein and contain vitamins (D, A and B2) and minerals (iodine). There is no recommended limit on how many eggs you should eat, but remember that it’s a good idea to eat as varied a diet as possible.

They are also easy to prepare. But it’s important to handle, cook and store them properly, especially for the very young, pregnant women and elderly people. Eggs can make a really healthy meal. Scrambled eggs on thick slices of brown toast, with some spring onions or mushrooms and served with grilled tomatoes, is a great way to start the day. Poached egg and baked beans served on thick-sliced toast makes a great brunch. Or a Spanish omelette, perhaps with chunks of cooked potatoes and onions served with steamed veg or a salad, or boiled eggs chopped into a summer salad, make tasty lunch or evening meals.

However you use your amazing harvest, it is vital that you cook eggs properly. Cook them until both the white and yolk are solid – this will kill any bacteria. If you are cooking a dish containing eggs, make sure you cook it until the food is steaming hot all the way through.

Also important is how you store eggs. Here are some tips to help you store your eggs safely:

* Do store eggs in a cool, dry place, ideally in the fridge.

* Do store eggs away from other foods. It’s a good idea to use your fridge’s egg tray, if you have one, because this helps to keep eggs separate.

* Do eat dishes containing eggs as soon as possible after you’ve prepared them, but if you’re not planning to eat them straight away, cool them quickly and then keep them in the fridge.

* Don’t use eggs after their ‘best before’ date for the safest choice.

* Don’t use eggs with damaged shells, because dirt or bacteria might have got inside them.

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