It’s Saturday morning. The world has yet to begin to stir. It’s quiet, peaceful, and the smell of brewing coffee has awoken your brain and kicked your senses into overdrive. Taking that first sip of morning brew, you realize that you’re hungry. But what to have? Well, if you’re anything like me, nothing says Saturday morning breakfast like a hearty helping of bacon and eggs. But as you pull a farm-fresh egg from the fridge, you suddenly can’t remember when you picked them up, and if they’re even any good anymore.
From the Farm
In the U.S., like in many other countries, eggs are considered a perishable item. Now, this seems like an obvious statement as we all know eggs to be perishable. But there is a reason why they are perishable here and why that is not the case in other countries. Forgive me for a moment while I get a little technical, but this explanation is essential to know how long your fresh eggs may last.
Very few average consumers know what bloom is when it comes to eggs. Why? Because it’s not something they encounter regularly, if ever. The bloom is the protective coating that is on an egg after a hen lays it. This protective coating keeps harmful bacteria from getting inside the shell and into the egg itself, and in turn, spoiling it. An eggshell is porous and susceptible to bacteria. The bloom covers the egg and makes it impenetrable.
So, if it’s impenetrable, why are eggs considered perishable? Shouldn’t this protect the egg from spoiling?
It should, and it does, but in the U.S., eggs sold commercially are required to have this coating removed. It might seem counterproductive, but the reason for this is to prevent the eggs from getting contaminated with Salmonella, the bacteria associated with food poisoning from poultry products.
Remember that I said commercially sold eggs are required to have the bloom removed before being sold. While many fresh farm eggs have this coating removed, they are not required to do so, which could mean the difference between your eggs being perishable and needing to be in the refrigerator to being something that you can keep on your counter. Yes, you can store eggs on your counter, but only if they have the bloom intact.
How to Properly Store Your Eggs
Let’s assume that your farm-fresh eggs come pre-washed with the bloom removed. How should they be stored? We know that you should keep eggs in the refrigerator to stay fresh for as long as possible. Many people immediately take the eggs out of the carton when they get home and put them in the fridge. I’m guilty of doing just that, and some refrigerators even have little slots where you can line up your eggs, but best to store them in the carton they came in. An eggshell is permeable. It can absorb odors and flavors coming from other foods in the fridge and bacteria that may not have been killed by the cold refrigerator air. Keeping them in the carton prevents the eggs from absorbing this kind of stuff.
Farm fresh eggs don’t often come with an expiry date stamped on the carton as store-bought eggs do, but if they do, then keeping the carton means always knowing when it might be time to toss those eggs in the trash and get some new ones.
That carton of eggs should also be kept on a shelf inside the fridge and not in the door to help keep the eggs at the consistent temperature of forty degrees Fahrenheit recommended by the FDA.
Did you know that you can freeze eggs?
People often purchase eggs on an as-needed basis. People refrain from buying too many eggs for fear that they will spoil before being used. But it’s not widely known that you can freeze eggs. I’m not talking about whole, intact eggs, but rather raw, uncooked eggs out of their shell. Crack the egg, beat it, and put it in a sealed freezer-safe container. While you can freeze eggs without beating them first, the yolk of an unbeaten egg doesn’t freeze in the sense that many other things do but rather turn gelatinous. If left in the freezer for a long period, the egg will become so gelatinous that it is almost unusable afterward, making freeing a vain pursuit.
I also mentioned that you can store eggs on the counter, but this is only if the bloom that we discussed earlier is left intact on the egg. If there is any chance that bacteria can penetrate the shell, the egg will spoil rather quickly at room temperature. While it is rare to get eggs with the bloom intact, unless by special request if you do have eggs with the bloom still on, it is recommended to leave it on and wash it off just before cooking, whether the eggs are kept on the counter or in the fridge.
I can’t stress enough that only fresh eggs with intact bloom can be safely kept on the counter. If you are unsure if your farm-fresh eggs still have the bloom on them, store them in the refrigerator.
How Long do Fresh Eggs Last?
Proper storage is key in keeping eggs fresh as long as possible. Let’s take a quick look at just how long eggs can last.
- In the Refrigerator
It is important that fresh eggs that have had the bloom removed to be put in the refrigerator as soon as possible. If they are stored at the proper temperature, a fresh egg can last up to six months, but it will typically last three to four weeks after purchase.
- In the Freezer
Eggs that are out of the shell and slightly beaten can last up to a year in the freezer.
- On the Counter
Because fresh farm eggs will often already have their protective coating removed, it’s rare to be able to store your eggs on the counter. But, if by chance you buy your eggs with the bloom still intact, then it is entirely possible for them to stay good for three to four weeks, although common guidelines recommend eating them within two weeks if for no other reason than getting the best possible flavor.
How to Tell If Your Eggs Are Still Good
Sometimes, you can tell by looking at it. Cracks or a powdery, slimy shell are sure-fire indications that the egg has gone bad. Don’t even bother cracking it, just toss it.
There is also no mistaking the smell of a spoiled egg. Give it a sniff before you crack it open. If something smells bad, it probably is.
Then there is the water test, which is surprisingly accurate. First, find a bowl large enough to completely submerge the egg with a few extra inches on top. Carefully put the egg in the bowl of water and wait to see if it sinks or floats. If it sinks and lays on its side, it is still good; if it floats to the top, it has gone bad.
Fresh eggs with a side of bacon is an outstanding way to start any day, but there is nothing worse than second-guessing whether or not those eggs in the back of the refrigerator are good anymore. Hopefully, this article helped to eliminate the guesswork and give you a more enjoyable Saturday morning.