When you have a lot of chickens, you get a lot of eggs.  We sell ours or give them to friends, but sometimes they back up on us.  I will find a carton or two stashed in our extra fridge, and I can’t remember how long they have been there.  I never pass these on to my customers, but I’m not above feeding them to my family.  But first, I always check to see if they are fresh.  According southernfood.about.com This is how to tell:

Fill a deep bowl or pan with enough cold tap water to cover an egg.
Place the egg in the water.
If the egg lies on its side on the bottom, the air cell within is small and it’s very fresh.
If the egg stands up and bobs on the bottom, the air cell is larger and it isn’t quite as fresh.
If the egg floats on the surface, it it should be discarded.
A very fresh egg out of the shell will have an overall thick white which doesn’t spread much and the yolk will stand up.

According to eatbydate.com fresh eggs are good for three to four weeks.  However, there is some controversy about both washing and refrigerating eggs.  Here’s what I’ve decided to do based on the information from a variety of websites and on the advice of a number of chicken-raising friends.

  • I try to keep my nest boxes clean.  I find that by simply adding fresh straw (if I don’t have time to clean) my eggs stay cleaner.
  • I avoid washing my eggs if possible.  This is because eggs have a natural membrane called a “bloom” that protects them from bacteria.  Washing eggs can remove the bloom.  
  • If my eggs are visibly dirty, I wash them with a course, damp washcloth. I use hot water, but I never soak them or use soaps or cleaners on them.
  • I prefer not to wash my eggs until time to eat them.  This keeps the bloom in place as long as possible.  However, sometimes I get on a washing roll, and I’ll do several dozen at a time.  In that case, it’s best to refrigerate them rather than leave them out.

As far as refrigeration goes, I’m all over the place.  The truth is, I like to see a basket of my fresh eggs sitting out on my kitchen counter.  It makes me happy.  I’ve read that in other countries no one refrigerates their eggs.  On the other hand, I don’t think it hurts anything to pop them in the fridge and it might just keep them fresher longer.  If I have left my eggs out more than a couple of days,  I do not sell them.

The bottom line is, I’ve washed my eggs and not washed them.  I’ve left them, out and I’ve refrigerated them. I’ve eaten them the day I gathered them, and I’ve kept them for weeks and then eaten them.  In two years of raising chickens, I’ve never had a bad egg.


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