Grade A And Grade AA Eggs: What's The Difference?

A run-of-the-mill trip to the grocery store can turn troubling when trying to decide which eggs to purchase. Deciphering the difference between color and size is difficult enough, and when combined with choosing the right grading, egg shopping can become downright frustrating. So, should you choose Grade A or Grade AA? Here's the thing — it depends. Let's start with the basics. First, of all what does egg grading even measure?

Eggs are routinely checked for abnormalities before reaching the grocery store, and the egg grading system creates a unified standard that all eggs are held to, according to AllrecipesThe U.S. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) states that the letter grade an egg receives depends on its external appearance and internal quality. The fewer defects in the shell or internal white and yolk is considered a higher quality egg, which means a higher letter grade. But don't be confused, a higher grade doesn't equate to better nutritional value or safer consumption. The USDA's Egg Grading manual instructs graders on how to evaluate the size, shape, and texture of eggs, but graders do not check for salmonella, for example. 

The quality of an egg is measured solely by the appearance of the eggshell and the characteristics of its yolk and white. According to the Egg Grading manual, eggs must have an exterior free of cracks or flaws to receive a high grade, and in order for an egg to be sold the yolk must have a clear line devoid of contaminants and the white must be thick enough to support the yolk. Through a process called candling, The Happy Chicken Coop shares, an egg's yolk, white, and interior are evaluated. Candling can be done either with a hand-held light source or by conveying the eggs over a light. 

The egg whites make all the difference

Now that you know what egg grading is, it's time to take a look at the difference in grades — Grade AA, Grade A, and Grade B. 

What sets Grade AA eggs apart from eggs in the grades below are their near-perfect yolks, blemish-free exterior, and thick egg whites, Business Insider shares. Eggs deemed Grade AA worthy have a "clean and unbroken" shell, a semi-defined yolk, and an air pocket of 1/8 inches. Grade AA egg whites are thick and clear of contaminants.

Despite being a lesser grade, only small details distinguish Grade A from a higher ranking. Eggs within this category exhibit an unmarked shell, like those in Grade AA, while the yolk and air pocket are larger and more defined. Grade A whites are less thick, says the North Carolina Egg Association, and the distinction makes all the difference. 

Often misshapen, Grade B eggs are usually reserved for baking and liquid eggs, according to MasterClass. Eggs that fall under Grade B have a "clearly defined" yolk, extremely large air pockets, and a thin egg white which may contain blood spots. According to the USDA's standards, both Grade AA and Grade A eggs are ideal for presentation purposes, while Grade B eggs are not.

Armed with grade knowledge, plan your next grocery trip and remember, all eggs are worth sampling — yes, even those in Grade B.