Joni Lanza loves her Cayugan ducks. “They’re black with green iridescent feathers — really beautiful. They are easy to raise, they don’t wander off. They’re very trainable,” says the former Broadway dancer who now runs Lanza Farms in Garrison with her husband Louie. The pair live on the 40-acre spread with their three young sons; their main focus is on the production of maple syrup and a few other small-batch items (“We have goats now, we’re going to start bringing goat cheese to the farmers market soon,” she says). But last year, they invested in about 16 or 17 of the Cayugan ducks. “We’re down to 13 now,” says Lanza. “You know, hawks and all that.”
But it’s really the eggs that Lanza wants to crow about. “They are so delicious, we do everything with them now,” she says. “They’re especially good hard-boiled; I fed them to all my babies that way. Or over-easy on toast, they’re just so creamy.”
Lanza explains that duck eggs “are predominantly yolk. When you whisk it you can feel that it is sturdy. It is so much richer and more golden in color than a chicken egg.” (A friend describes the yolk as “pure neon.”) The Lanzas plan to start selling the duck eggs soon. “We’re just getting started,” she says.
At Poughkeepsie’s Sprout Creek Farm, duck eggs, which sell for seven dollars a dozen, have become “very popular,” declares Director of Education Georgie Blaeser. With about 15 ducks — “Pekings, skobies, runners,” says Blaeser — “we get about a dozen eggs every third day in the winter; a dozen every other day in the warmer months.”
Blaeser says the rich yolk makes the eggs “great to cook with. Chefs are using duck eggs a lot these days.” In fact, duck eggs show up on the menu at a variety of eateries, from the Peekskill Brewery — where a fried duck egg is part of the asparagus salad — to the velvety duck egg crème brûlée at the Tavern at Diamond Mills in Saugerties.
Blaeser notes that duck eggs have always been popular in Asian cuisines, some of which have traditionally “pickled” them through a brining process using either vinegar or salt water. “I have Asian women who come just for the duck eggs,” she says. “But a lot of people are asking for them now.”