Did you know that most other countries sell eggs that are not refrigerated? The US is one of the few oddballs when it comes to refrigerating eggs. Let me tell you about my personal experience and share some egg facts with you. Then you can decide what you are more comfortable with.
Many years ago, while at a relative’s house, I noticed a large flats of eggs stored in the utility room. I wondered why they were not refrigerated. Sometime later while watching a cooking show, a famous chef stated that he preferred to cook with room temperature eggs. These two events got me to thinking. I did some research and discovered not everyone stores their eggs in a refrigerator.
Before I go any further, let me give you some scientific information. Just before a hen lays an egg, she adds a protective covering to seal the egg. This is an antibacterial covering called bloom. The bloom prevents bacteria from entering the egg as well as keeping moisture inside the egg. Mother Nature is awesome! Here is something else you might not know. Commercial egg producers wash off the bloom before packing the eggs for sale to the public. Washing the bloom off the egg, particularly with cold water, causes the pores of the egg shell to pull in bacteria from the outer surface of the egg. When this is done, eggs must be immediately refrigerated to prevent bacteria, which may have entered, from growing and causing a food-borne illness that could lead to food poisoning. Knowing this, you should never remove eggs from the refrigerator and then store them at room temperature. The protective bloom is no longer on the egg. Therefore, the egg is NOT protected from bacteria entering and growing inside.
So how do I store eggs if I do not refrigerate them? I store them at room temperature in a cool part of the kitchen. Here are some pointers...
1. Use only farm fresh eggs that you know have never been washed.
2. Do NOT wash the eggs. Most eggs are very clean when laid. If they are a little dusty or a feather attached, wipe them off with a dry cloth or paper towel. If they are dirty, wash them in water and store in the refrigerator.
3. With a pencil, write the date the egg was laid on the shell. When you get a large collection of eggs, this will make it easier to identify the oldest ones. The accountant in me always uses the FIFO (First In First Out) method when choosing a fresh egg for cooking.
4. At this point you can either place the eggs in a basket as pictured here, or place them fat end up in an egg carton. (In order of date laid, of course. wink)
5. Now comes the big question... How long can an egg be stored at room temperature? This question is almost as controversial as, "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" All I can tell you is what I, and others I know, have done. I have eaten and used eggs that were stored on the counter for a couple of months. HOWEVER, I NEVER use them when they are more than a few of weeks old without doing the Float Test. See my blog from last week as it tells in detail how to do the Float Test. Just remember, if the egg floats, don't eat it.
6. When using eggs stored at room temperature, always make a few quick common sense checks first. 1) Float Test - make sure the egg sinks before using it. 2) If it smells bad, never use it! 3) A fresh egg whites are a cloudy white. Old eggs have clear egg whites. Spoiled eggs whites have a pinkish cloudy color. Do NOT use.
I have followed these steps for years without any signs of contracting food poisoning. I hope you have found this information informative and useful.
Now for the disclaimer.... The FDA recommends refrigerating eggs. Follow this link, http://www.fda.gov/food/resourcesforyou/Consumers/ucm077342.htm for more information. Please do your research on egg storage and follow the method you are most comfortable with.
Cheers, and God Bless!
Artist, Gardener, Writer