Where are all the turkey eggs?

Image: Nest of wild turkey eggs, Fort Bragg, California. Photo by Bruce Forman. CaliforniaDFW CC BY 2.0

All those turkeys. And never an egg.

Yet turkey eggs contain most of the same nutrients as chicken eggs. The average turkey egg is half as big again as a chicken egg, but contains nearly twice as many calories and grams of fat and four times as much cholesterol. The problem is that turkeys only lay a couple of eggs each week. (Chickens fire out one every day.) Turkeys start laying at 7 months, two months later than their chicken counterparts. They also eat more.  And crucially for industrial farmers, chickens take up less space. So overall, turkey eggs have become financially unviable, costing as much as $3 per egg to purchase.

It wasn’t always this way. When the settlers got here, they loved the nourishment in turkey eggs. And before that, when turkeys were wild, turkey eggs were a menu staple in North America. Wild turkeys roamed the continent before the arrival of humans, and archaeologists have found turkey-egg shells at the encampments of pre-Columbian Americans. Hopi Indians consider the eggs a delicacy although the Navajo only consume the flesh.

Relatively rare nowadays, you can sometimes pick up turkey eggs at a farmers’ market or farm stand. They are best just fried, as their creamy yolks are delicious, but 19th century chefs believed turkey eggs were superior for baking. Check out this English website for information of turkey and other exotic eggs.