I was contacted last week by the RSPCA who asked me to support their campaign encouraging people to choose cage-free eggs this Pancake Day. As a food blogger, and as someone who keeps their own chickens I thought this was particularly relevant for me to share and I am happy to support the RSPCA with their campaign.
All that is being asked of you is when you're shopping for eggs look for eggs labelled Freedom Food, free range, organic or barn. Some eggs in our supermarkets still come from hens kept in cages which do no allow hens to move around freely. Did you know that on 1st January 2012 barren "conventional" battery cages were banned in the EU but so-called "enriched" battery cages are still allowed? All this means is that the hens are given a little more usable space for nesting, scratching and perching but it is still only amounts to a space no bigger than an A4 piece of paper per hen.
And it goes further than just boxes of eggs - caged hens eggs are also used in things like batter mixes, ready-made pancakes, mayonnaise, cakes and quiches. Many supermarkets now use free-range eggs in their own brand products and foods made with free-range eggs will often have this clearly advertised on the packaging or in the ingredients list.
Obviously with my own laying hens in the back garden I rarely need to buy eggs in the supermarket but urge you to check the source of your eggs before you buy. In 2011 49% of eggs were laid by hens kept in cages. Compare this to the 1995 figure of 86% of eggs being laid by caged hens and it's clear to see that the situation is improving but we need it to improve further - increased public awareness and support from the supermarkets and food manufacturers can help bring this percentage down further.
As it's Pancake Day this week, I've also got a recipe to share with you, courtesy of Tony & Gwen Burgess of Welsh Freedom Food egg producers, Birchgrove Eggs.
Rhubarb and Ginger Pancakes
Preparation Time: 10 minutes, Cooking Time: 20 minutes, Serves: 8
for the pancakes:
200g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g light brown soft sugar
2.5cm piece fresh root ginger, finely grated
2 medium Freedom Food labelled eggs, 1 whole and 1 separated
284ml pot buttermilk
for the rhubarb:
500g rhubarb, sliced
3 tbsp caster sugar
Place the rhubarb, water and sugar in a pan and heat gently. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the rhubarb is soft.
Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl, and then stir in the sugar. Make a well in the centre and add the ginger, whole egg and egg yolk. Mix with a wooden spoon, and then gradually add the buttermilk, beating until the mixture forms a smooth, thick batter. In a clean bowl, whisk the remaining egg white with a pinch of salt to form soft peaks. Lightly fold into the batter using a large metal spoon.
Heat a little butter in a non-stick frying pan until foaming. Pour a generous tablespoon of the batter into the pan and spread to a circle about 8 cm across. Cook over a medium heat for about 3 minutes until bubbles appear on the surface of the pancakes. Flip them over and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until risen and golden. Repeat until all the batter is used.
Layer the pancakes and the rhubarb in a stack and serve.
Sounds delicious huh? I think I'll be trying these this week!
Thanks for reading this blog post. If you want to find out more about the RSPCA's campaign and download a PDF guide to choosing cage-free eggs click HERE.
Happy pancake flipping!