Farm-fresh eggs are a delicious and nutritious addition to any kitchen, but should you wash them before storing? How should you store them for the longest shelf life? In this article, we will answer your questions about egg washing and storage.
Egg washing and storage are the two most controversial egg-related topics among avid chicken keepers. One side says you should wash every egg before you store it while the other side says only wash a really dirty egg and only wash them just before use.
One side says you should refrigerate your eggs asap. The other side says no refrigeration is needed. After our last article on determining if an egg is fresh, I had many questions about the washing and storing of eggs. This inspired me to take a good look at these two topics with you.
About Egg Washing and Storage
The truth is you do not have to wash any farm-fresh egg that is to be stored. When eggs are laid, they are covered with a thin, protective membrane called the bloom. This protective layer keeps bacteria, dirt, and other bad things out of the egg and all the eggy goodness inside.
Commercial egg plants wash their eggs in chlorine bleach and soap. This of course destroys the bloom and some of the chemicals leech inside through the tiny pores of the eggshell which are now exposed.
Some people also use a cleaning mixture of bleach and detergent to wash their fresh eggs. It’s recommended you never dry a washed egg with a cloth, allow it to air dry.
YUCK! I would NEVER use this at my home.
I don’t wash any eggs that I’m going to store. If one of my girls’ eggs has dirt or poop on it, I wipe it off with a clean dry cloth and put it where I can use it next and wash it just before I use it.
Why I don’t wash my eggs
The reason I don’t wash eggs is simply because of the bloom.
The bloom is destroyed with washing. By not washing, the membrane is left intact and the egg keeps longer.
It’s pretty safe to assume every egg has bacteria on it and egg washers cite this as the reason they wash their eggs. But the truth is, washing an egg and removing the protective membrane makes it more likely that bacteria can get inside the shell.
Bacteria love moisture, so adding it along with removing the membrane creates the perfect environment for bacteria to breed, increasing the risk of egg penetration. Whether or not to wash an egg is a personal decision. However, I strongly feel not washing the egg is the best way.
Should I refrigerate my eggs?
This may seem like a silly question to us in an age of modern refrigeration, but in many countries, eggs are not refrigerated. As a matter of fact, old-timers didn’t refrigerate their eggs. My great-grandmother and grandmother used egg baskets to keep their eggs until ready to use.
Here in the U.S., cold storage is considered the best way to keep eggs by most people. However, in other countries like France, Britain, actually most of Europe, eggs are not refrigerated.
The commercial method is to keep eggs stored between 35 and 40°F. They say that when kept at this temperature, with an adequate humidity level (above 60%), eggs will keep for 100 days.
Be careful storing your washed eggs next to something smelly like an onion because they have lots of tiny pores and will absorb odors.
When researching egg washing and storage, I found there have been scientific studies done in an attempt to squash the idea of refrigeration. They have proven there is no difference in the bacteria levels of cold storage eggs versus room temperature eggs. You have to decide what you feel comfortable with.
The old-timers used to store their eggs in crocks or barrels filled with lime water, or baskets in the root cellar.
If they had a large supply, they would often fill the container with sawdust or straw and store it in a cool place like their root cellar or basement. They stored them small end down to keep the air pocket in its natural place.
I store my yard eggs in my egg basket at room temperature. They must not be placed in direct sunlight or next to a heat source.
I keep some in the kitchen in a basket and the rest I keep in baskets in the room where I keep my preserved garden produce. It isn’t heated so it remains a pretty even, cool temperature, and the humidity is good.
How long are eggs good?
As a general rule, unwashed fresh eggs are good for 6 weeks at room temperature with no other preservative methods used. If you refrigerate unwashed farm-fresh eggs, they will keep up to 5 months.
Washed eggs have been proven to spoil within a month or less if left at room temperature. If you do wash your eggs, let them air dry and store them in the refrigerator immediately. They will keep for about 100 days.
If I use eggs that have been on stand-by for a while, I always check them for freshness using the bowl method.
We do not wash our fresh eggs. They are good for 6 weeks at room temperature with no other preservative methods used. If you refrigerate unwashed farm-fresh eggs, they will keep up to 5 months.
If you do wash your eggs, make sure to use warm water and dry them thoroughly with a clean cloth before storing them. Eggs should be stored in the refrigerator after you wash them. Storing them this way will help keep them fresh for up to 100 days.
I’m just an experienced farmer with generations of chicken keeping to rely on to decide about egg washing and storage.
Where do you stand on this issue? Are you a washer or a non-washer? Do you refrigerate or not?
Be sure to share your experiences, ideas, and tips in the comments below.
As always, we’re here to help.