First published in The Journal on August 15, 2022.
I must confess- I am a self-aware, annoying, poultry egg know-it-all who cannot let her friends and family store farm fresh eggs incorrectly. Despite my best attempts, I have corrected people in their own homes about how they are handling their eggs. It is both a blessing and a curse for both parties involved. There are many wrong ways to store eggs. There are a few right ways to store eggs. For your health, it is important to know the differences.
Poultry eggs are extremely porous and thus the way you handle the eggshell impacts the egg contents. When a bird lays an egg it is naturally coated in a protective coating called the “bloom” or “cuticle” which prevents most microorganisms from passing through the eggshell. The bloom is critical for the development of baby chicks and also human health.
Washing eggs removes the natural bloom from the egg allowing for increased risk of contamination from the outside in. Unwashed, undamaged, eggs should be stored at room temperature and will remain fresh for up to two weeks at room temperature. If you choose to wash eggs, you must wash them in clean running water that is 20 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the egg (at least 90 degrees), then allow the eggs to dry, then store in the refrigerator. Refrigerated eggs should remain good for up to three months.
Only store clean eggs. Collect eggs from a clean laying area two to three times per day for greatest chances of clean shells. If surface debris are difficult to brush off while dry or easily rinse off, discard the egg. Never store or eat eggs with damaged shells. Even eggs that appear clean may harbor Salmonella. Salmonella and many other bacteria will not survive at 160 degrees, and they will not grow at a temperature below 40 degrees. Cook and store eggs at appropriate temperatures for safety’s sake.
These are the basics of egg handling and storage.
There are many more guidelines and nuances that pertain to egg production that producers should be familiar with including state regulations for sale. To learn more contact the Noble County Extension Office at 740-732-5681 or email Christine Gelley at firstname.lastname@example.org.