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At Skippy’s in Petaluma, the egg comes first

What came first, the chicken or the egg? In this column, it’s all about the egg. One of the secrets that longtime Petalumans know about is Skippy’s.

What is this place that sounds like a brand of peanut butter? It is a store, specializing in eggs, and run by Petaluma Farms, located off the beaten path in east Petaluma.

Petaluma Farms raises chickens for eggs here in Petaluma, and they started more than 100 years ago. Their operation, owned by Judy and Steve Marhrt, grew so big over the years that they moved their retail operation from the actual farm to this location about six years ago. Located at 951 Transport Way, off of North McDowell in a bright, clean and well-lit store, it is hidden around the backside of a big yellow and blue warehouse building.

Many years ago when they began selling eggs, they started adding some restaurant-sized containers of foods at their store, and over time that has morphed into a good-sized store that specializes in some of the larger quantities that restaurants need. However, and this is important, everyone can shop there, and not everything is sold in large quantities.

Let’s start with the eggs. They have several labels, including the Petaluma Farms label, which was how they got started, the Judy’s Family Farm label, which are organic eggs, available either with omega-3 or old-fashioned brown organic eggs.

They have eggs that bear the label “Super Egg” because they are given feed with extra vitamins and minerals, including omega-3, vitamin D, lutein, B12, zinc and folate. As the store manager Paige Nonella related to me, when chickens ingest nutrients, the majority of those extra nutrients go right into the egg, so by feeding additional nutrients to the chickens, we benefit by eating those special eggs.

Eggs are sold in flats of 30 eggs or in traditional dozen boxes. The pricing on all of their eggs is very low, and you are getting eggs grown right here in Petaluma, from chickens cared for by a family that has been doing this for generations.

Skippy’s is well known for selling “check” eggs. These are eggs whose shells have small cracks that do not penetrate the membrane. The nutrition and safety of these eggs is excellent, but they cannot be sold to restaurants, so the average consumer who shops at Skippy’s can benefit from the lower prices on these particular eggs. Checks are great for cooking or baking.

If you like eggs with double yolks, try some of Skippy’s jumbo eggs.

Another mini-specialty at Skippy’s is the sale of fertilized eggs. When I asked Paige if they taste or seem any different than unfertilized eggs, she told me they do not, because they are refrigerated as soon as they are fertilized, and therefore the embryos do not develop.

This led us to the sub-specialty of this great little store – they sell freshly produced fertilized eggs that have never been refrigerated to schools and other entities that want to incubate the eggs to get baby chickens. In order to buy those, teachers (and others) simply call a day or more ahead to request fertilized, unrefrigerated eggs, and go to pick them up. They are sold for only $5 a dozen.

One of the things I like very much about this store is their very fair pricing. I find that Clover dairy products, which I love, sell there for about 15 percent less than any other store around. In addition, they sell Roland brand gourmet items such as capers, Dijon mustard, shortbread cookies, and puff pastry cheese twists that are all irresistible and extraordinarily low-priced.

Looking forward to the past, in a few months they plan to have their egg history museum open at the store. The family has been collecting egg-related things for the past 100 years, and they are putting them together in a museum where we can see how the egg business has progressed over time. I got a sneak preview and cannot wait to see the finished product.

Now for a cooking tip that really works well. I recently learned a method for hard-boiled fresh eggs. I used to believe that in order to be able to easily peel hard-boiled eggs, they had to be a few weeks old or they wouldn’t peel. Then I learned this super-simple method to always get easy-to-peel eggs.

Take a wide pan with a lid. The number of eggs you are planning to cook need to fit on the bottom of your pan in a single layer. Fill the pan with water to the depth of one inch. Bring the water to a hard rolling boil. Carefully add the eggs to the water.

You actually want about 1/3 of the egg to not be in the water. Immediately cover the pan and leave boiling.

Boil for 13 minutes for solid yellow centers in tender whites. Have a bowl of cold water ready. Drain the eggs and add to the cold water. Change the cold water as it warms up, or add a bunch of ice cubes, so that the eggs cool rapidly. Tap the eggs on the sink or counter and peel. The shells will always slip right off.

If you want to know more about this method, and some variations and additional tips, send me an email.

(Contact Juli Lederhaus at julilederhaus@gmail.com.)

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