Keeping Eggs Fresh

Chicken EggsObviously, the freshest eggs are the ones that come straight from your chickens without being stored at all. But often, you do need to store eggs for a few days, or even a few weeks. So, what’s the best way to store them so that they’ll stay fresh the longest? Should they be put in the refrigerator or left out on the counter?

First, let’s look at refrigeration. In America, any eggs you buy at the supermarket will already have been refrigerated. The reason for this is that these eggs have already been washed in order to meet U.S. health requirements, and washing eggs removes the protective outer coating known as “bloom” or “cuticle” from the egg shell. Egg shells are porous, which allows them to “breathe,” and bloom is a waxy substance that covers the egg shell to seal out contaminants.

When you gather eggs from your own chickens you can choose to leave them out at room temperature or refrigerate them. If you plan to store them for a long time, it’s better to refrigerate them, because they’ll stay fresh longer that way. But if you plan to eat the eggs soon, within a week or so, you can refrigerate them or store them out on the counter, as long as you haven’t washed them yet. Once you’ve washed them, you should either go ahead and use them or store them in the refrigerator. (We’ll go into more detail in a separate article about how to wash eggs.)

When refrigerating eggs you should aim for a temperature between about 36 degrees (F) and 40 degrees (F). Much colder than that, and the eggs and other food in your refrigerator are liable to freeze. Much warmer than that, and they’ll spoil faster.

Since eggs can absorb strong odors from other foods in the refrigerator (like onions) it’s best to keep eggs in an egg carton rather than store them in the open-topped egg tray that came with or was built into your refrigerator. It’s also best to store them on one of the shelves, where they’ll stay at a more constant temperature than if you were to store them in the refrigerator door. Eggs have an air cell at the large end, so store eggs in the carton with the large end up.

If you’d like to learn more about long term storage of eggs — what works and what doesn’t — read the following informative article from Mother Earth News: How to Store Fresh Eggs. It goes into a number of different “old time” methods for preserving eggs. Having experimented with a large number of eggs to test the effectiveness of these methods, they concluded, among other things, that:

The very best way we’ve found to stash eggs away for long-term storage is in a sealed container at a temperature of 35 degrees Fahrenheit to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Their whites may become somewhat runny over a period of time, but even after seven months [the eggs] … stored in this manner smell good, taste good, have a good texture, and — in short — seem “almost fresh”.

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12 Responses to Keeping Eggs Fresh

  1. Betty Dodson says:

    We bought Black Stars last year because they laid double yolk egg (or so we read)
    We have yet to get the first double yolk egg from them.

  2. Keith Jones says:

    I heard if you take a washed egg and dip it totally in vegetable oil it will last non-refrigerated for months… Am I right?

    • Howard White says:

      I would suggest that by coating the egg with vegetable oil that you are replacing the natural coating that comes with the egg as it exits the hen. At least that’s what I think.

      HW

  3. Bill Moomau says:

    How do you dehydrate eggs?

  4. Annabel Turnbull says:

    I freeze mine in Tupperware containers – keep well for months. Depending on future use, either separate whites and yolks, or not. Do puncture the yolks, and label the container with number of eggs. Thawed eggs spoil quickly if try to keep them very long.

  5. Melanie says:

    Thank you so much for this information. In a previous article on how to tell if an egg is fresh, a number of people wrote back with questions/comments about washing eggs after you gather them each day. The info in this article is helpful to have and I didn’t know about storing eggs large side up. All good information. I look forward to your newsletter each month. Thank you.

  6. Jay says:

    Back during WW 2 my grandmother got eggs from a neighbor. Because the chickens did not lay much in the winter she would buy eggs in the fall & store them in 5 gal. crocks in something called “water glass”. Is this the same as sodium silicate? She used the eggs for baking, I don’t remember them being used for eating as fried or scrambled.

  7. RICHARD WINTER says:

    This article on storing eggs was very enlightening. I always refrigerated my eggs. Good to know they can be left out for awhile. Thank you for the information shared.

  8. David Hiner says:

    Thank You. I did not know for sure, but assumed eggs would last a lot longer than most people think. My reasoning was Eggs have been around a lot longer than Refrigerators. I’ve used store bought eggs, well past the expiration date on the carton, with no problems. Have seen friends toss them on the spot. I buy Fresh eggs from various, and trust worthy, people that sell them everyday. But we have always put them in the refrig as soon as possible. Did not know you can store them on the counter for a while. When we had chickens, living with my Aunt, she always told us to pick everything in the coop that wasn’t there yesterday. But, eventually we would find hens sitting in the barns, garages, ect. and we would get them also. We learned a good lesson on that, the hard way.

  9. KatyRose says:

    You did not mention two methods of storing eggs: 1) separating the yolks and whites, then freezing them separately; 2) dehydrating the eggs. Personally, I use sodium silicate solution to store whole eggs, and dehydrate eggs for other purposes that do not need whole eggs. However, I have had good luck with coating whole eggs with olive oil. When I find it absolutely necessary to clean an egg, I do so with the same sodium silicate solution I store with, so as not to break the bloom. Once dehydrated or placed in sodium silicate solution, I put them in a dark, cool closet. I only put very fresh eggs (same day) in the solution. Eggs that are up to two weeks old I dehydrate. I have also had good luck, too, with placing good quality eggs in a protected place in the shade outside and had them last for several weeks. I buy my sodium silicate from eBay.

    • Bethany says:

      Katy Rose, how long do you store your eggs in the sodium silicate? I’m just wondering the benefit of this option. Thanks.

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