While traveling in England I went to a grocery store to buy the essentials. Since my family eats about 5 dozen eggs a week, eggs are essential. I looked and looked for the eggs and eventually had to ask where they were hiding. I was directed to a normal shelf–unrefrigerated! I was shocked. I’ve heard of eggs being left out on the counter but never at a grocery store like that! This made me ponder whether or not I have to refrigerate the eggs I get at home? I started researching this topic and things got really interesting! The most reliable information I found was on the USDA website and Mother Earth News. Mother Earth News even did a very enlightening experiment! They identified 10 potential storage options–some myths–and went through a 7 month process to determine which methods actually worked. They compared both “fresh from the hen” eggs and store bought. Many of the storage methods I had NEVER heard of or even imagined!
Potential Storage Options (read the Mother Earth News egg storage experiment here):
1. Controlled refrigeration.
2. Sitting on the counter.
3. Waterglass method (9 parts water, 1 part sodium silicate)
4. 16 parts water/2 parts lime/1 part salt solution
5. Pack them in lard.
6. Coat them in lard.
7. Coat them in vaseline.
8. Pack them in dry sand.
9. Pack them in wet sand.
10. Pack them in dry sawdust.
They concluded that the unwashed, fertile homestead eggs seem to store much better than washed, unfertile agribiz eggs. Are you surprised? I’m not! Store bought just doesn’t taste the same. AND not one thing I’ve purchased at a grocery store has been better than something I’ve purchased from a farmer.
The big question is why? Did you know that the eggs that come from the grocery store are washed? While washing removes bacteria it also removes the light layer of natural sealing agent called “bloom” that is on an egg as it comes from the chicken. Of course, clean, beautifully packaged, store bought eggs LOOK better, they definitely don’t TASTE better. Mother Earth News found that the natural protective coating seems to help protect the eggs from air and bacteria in the air, thus extending their “shelf” life. Still, the absolute best way to get longevity out of egg storage is by refrigerating them in a sealed container between 35-45 degrees F. They even found that the fertile homestead eggs stored this way tasted “almost fresh” at 7 months!
Can you take store bought eggs and leave them out on the counter? Apparently, the answer to this question in NO. The temperature fluctuation that would occur if you take cold, refrigerated eggs and place them in a warmer environment causes food safety issues. The cold eggs left out at room temperature begin to sweat which facilitates the growth of bacteria. According to the USDA, eggs should not be left out of the refrigerator more than 2 hours; 1 hour if the outside temperature is 90 °F (32.2 °C) or above. Source.
How long can you store fertile homestead eggs on the counter? Varying information on this topic but the general consensus seems to be 6 weeks. If you are concerned about this you can do this test to tell whether you have a good egg or a bad egg (if the smell isn’t an indicator already!):
The Float Test
Float egg in water deep enough for egg to sink.
Egg floats = Bad, don’t eat it.
Egg stays on bottom but rises to one side = Stale but OK.
Egg is totally sunk = Good
We are building our new home on acreage and then I will have some chickens so I’ll have my own FRESH eggs with bloom. That way I can leave the eggs out on the counter and get that amazing fresh flavor! I’m already starting to look at beautiful countertop storage/display options for them….like this and this. I might have a problem. 🙂