The Basics of Egg Storage
Eggs laid by your flock are coated with this amazing antimicrobial layer called bloom or cuticle and this protective layer makes it possible for eggs to be safely stored on the countertop, away from the fridge. In American commercial egg operations, all eggs are thoroughly washed so the protective layer is gone and the eggs require refrigeration for freshness. If you ever spent time in Europe, you may have noticed egg refrigeration is not practiced there and it is actually illegal to wash them! While this puts some trust in the egg bloom, it should also be noted that commercial flocks in Europe are vaccinated for Salmonella, one of the most common causes of food poisoning. Salmonella vaccination is not required for commercial egg flocks in the United States.
So what does this mean for the eggs from your own flock?
It truly comes down to personal preference! Storing eggs on your countertop is a neat reminder of the bounty from your flock and they can be stored on your countertop for about 2 weeks before you need to question their freshness. It is always a good idea to crack eggs into a separate bowl before being put into a recipe or hot skillet.
If your eggs have any debris or dirt, you can gently clean using a dry or wet method. For the dry method, a dry cloth, sanding sponge, loofah, or kitchen sponge can be used to gently wipe the eggs. This preserves the bloom. For eggs that have extra grime or stubborn dirt, you can use warm water but the eggs would then need to be refrigerated. Warm water is recommended for egg washing because cold water can cause the contents of the egg to condense, creating a vacuum that can pull bacteria into the egg through the porous shell.
For those of us with very limited counter space, the display of fresh eggs may not be feasible; eggs with bloom intact can still be refrigerated without issue. With or without bloom, refrigerating eggs will extend their shelf life. A good rule of thumb is one day out on the counter at room temperature is equivalent to about a week in the refrigerator; fresh is always best for maximum flavor!
You can expect about 2-3 month shelf life for properly refrigerated, bloom-intact eggs. Eggs past this timeframe that have been refrigerated are still likely to be safe to use, the taste not be as robust and the consistency may be just a tad runny.
As poultry-keepers, it is our joy to know exactly what our birds eat, how they are cared for, and even which bird laid each egg. Making the choice for egg storage is just another facet of the beauty of being the manager of your own flock!
For more info on washing your eggs, be sure to read our other blog about cleaning your freshly laid chicken eggs!
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